Bob Parr (Mr. Incredible) is left to care for the kids while Helen (Elastigirl) is out saving the world. (from IMDB)
It's a risky thing to not only give a beloved movie a sequel, but to wait so long to do so. Pixar Animation Studio's Finding Nemo saw 13 years before Finding Dory released. And from Toy Story 2 to Toy Story 3, there were 11 years between films (and by the time we get Toy Story 4, there will have been 9 years passed since TS3). But 2004's The Incredibles has them all beat. It's been a long 14 years since the release of that film, and fans are finally treated to the long asked-for, long anticipated follow-up to that classy superhero romp. And thankfully, it was worth the wait.
Not all sequels prove to be worth the long time span between releases. It took 20 years to give fans of the cult classic Dumb & Dumber a reprisal and fans will agree across the board that it was nothing short of terribly disappointing. The same can be said for the sequel for 2004's Anchorman that came 9 years after the first one, and Zoolander 2, which came 15 years after the original as well. At that point, not only does the film have to exceed all expectations, but one has to wonder, "Who really cares anymore?"
Thankfully, with family films like those that Pixar churns out regularly, you either have had an emotional, nostalgic bond with the preceding film in a given franchise... or your child does. I remember seeing the first Toy Story film on the big screen at 15 years old, so any entry since has been really nostalgic for me (and that incinerator scene in Toy Story 3 nearly killed me -- you know what I'm talking about!). Similarly, I grew up on Winnie The Pooh, so the trailer alone for the nostalgic Christopher Robin chokes me up each time. But I was relatively newly married and still in my twenties when The Incredibles surprised audiences in 2004, and now I have a son of my own who considers it one of his favorite films (and possibly his favorite Disney film). We weren't even close to parenthood at the time of the first film's release -- and now the adventures of the Parr family have taken on a whole new meaning.
Incredibles 2 picks up almost immediately after the first film ends. Through a twisty side character perspective, we're given a recount of what happened after The Underminer showed up, and then we're treated to a thrilling action sequence involving the Incredibles trying to stop The Underminer from destroying the city. The action sequence is one of the best from either film and it's just fantastic to see the whole family back in action and working as a team. It's also in this moment that you realize just how much you wanted this movie and how much you've missed these lovable characters!
The story progresses from there to try to undo the government's laws against superheroes. A fan of supers, especially Frozone, Elastigirl and Mr. Incredible, named Winston Deavor rallies for them and wants to make Elastigirl the face of a new campaign to make supers accepted again. Due to Mr. Incredible (Bob)'s tendency to cause damage with his heroics, Deavor decides Helen is the best option. This then leads to Bob playing more of the Mr. Mom role while Helen gets to play hero again. While it's more of a role reversal of what we saw in the first movie, it's taken in a different direction. In the first one, Bob was working for Syndrome's company in secret, without Helen's knowledge, which caused a lot of trouble in their marriage. But we didn't get to see a ton of Elastigirl in action last time either. Here, she gets some of the best action sequences and it's executed absolutely brilliantly. From her special bike (I won't spoil what it does here) to bounding across rooftops and investigating a spooky apartment, she's a joy to follow -- even if it's bittersweet to watch Bob suffer through parenting three growing children... including an infant he suddenly discovers has unbelievable powers! Speaking of -- baby Jack-Jack steals the film. He's a highlight of every scene he's in and he almost always garners a laugh with his antics. From a face-off with a raccoon to winning over the heart of Edna Mode, Jack-Jack simply owns Incredibles 2.
The content of the film is in line with the first one, but sadly, there is more mild profanity in this film -- and it's slightly jarring to hear. "H*ll" and "d*mned" are both used once, while "Oh my G-d" is used at least three times, along with a use of "Oh L-rd." Violet also says "Superheroes suck" in a moment of discouragement, and "cr*p" is used twice. Many moviegoers barely consider that to be offensive, but I know some parents won't be expecting it at all -- and, personally, I just found it entirely unnecessary. There's no sexual content, so the only real remaining content to consider is violence and some scary imagery. My 7 year old son found some hypnosis paraphernalia that Helen discovers in a dark apartment to be pretty scary. He cuddled up to us a couple times and said he was getting freaked out. The villain, "Screenslaver," also is pretty creepy -- especially with his glowing green goggles. When some other characters don these similar goggles, they've basically become zombies and it's a little unsettling at times, even if it's played for laughs to lighten the mood. Finally, there are a few scenes where we see Helen and Evelyn casually drinking what appears to be hard liquor. It's not focused on a lot, except for a moment when Evelyn asks Helen if she's allowed to "drink on the job."
Before the film, like with the usual Pixar venture, we're treated to the latest short film, this time titled Bao. This one follows an Asian couple who sit down to eat a dinner of homemade dumplings the wife made. The husband leaves the table as the wife finishes, and her last dumpling comes to life just before she eats it and then sprouts arms and legs. We then see a montage of the woman raising the dumpling and caring for it as if it were a child. As it grows, it takes on the traits of a teenager and starts pushing her away. We then see the dumpling bring home a human woman he plans to marry and, distraught and in a panic at the thought of losing this child, the mother EATS the dumpling child. Most of the audience in our theater gasped, with some of them audibly expressing their confusion. But we soon see that a human son appears in her doorway and we realize that the entire dumpling experience was a fantasy of hers and she's actually struggling with the thought of her real, biological son getting married and outgrowing her. It's a deep and emotional short that is a bit much to take in and will confuse most children (I tried to explain it to my son a few times afterwards and he couldn't get past the fact the mother ate her dumpling "son"). So parents may want to be prepared for a deep conversation about their children growing up...
Overall, Incredibles 2 was a longtime coming and well worth the wait. It's an exciting and meaty film that is just as good - if not better - than the original. The only thing that is definitely better in the first film is the central villain, but Incredibles 2 otherwise lives up to its name and is a wonderful summer movie!- John DiBiase (reviewed: 6/18/18)
Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.
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