It’s been over a decade since Pixar Animation Studios with Walt Disney Pictures introduced us to “The Incredibles.” The 2004 film was Brad Bird’s directional debut for Pixar. Bird not only wrote and directed, he voiced one of my favorite characters, the fashion designer to the supers: Edna Mode.
For those who didn’t see “The Incredibles” and even those who did, it is worth seeing the movie before you watch the sequel although it isn’t really necessary.
“The Incredibles” introduces us to Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) and Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) who cute meet during some quick crime-fighting on their way to an important appointment. Mr. Incredible arrives late, but his best bud, Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) is waiting and reminds him to take off his mask before Mr. Incredible appears before a minister as Bob Parr marrying Helen/Elastigirl (“You’re late. When you asked me if I was doing anything later, I didn’t realize you had forgotten. I thought it was playful banter”) with Lucius Best/Frozone as his witness. But Helen and Bob marry on the cusp of the super heroes or supers falling from grace. The public complains about injuries including one man, Oliver Sansweet, who attempted suicide but was saved by Mr. Incredible. Sansweet complains, “You didn’t save my life, you ruined my death.” Sansweet and other citizens sue the supers resulting in the governments around the world deciding to outlaw supers being super and the supers going underground and working regular jobs provided by the Super Relocation Program headed by Rick Dicker ( Bud Luckey). Over a decade and three kids later, Bob ends up working for a dishonest insurance agency that uses convoluted bureaucracy to prevent its customers from receiving benefits. Bob doesn’t fit in and gets fired, but soon finds another job, one that allows him to use his secret powers. Having gained a few pounds, he consults with Edna Mode who makes him a new super suit, in line with the recent advances in her technology. The job brings him in touch with his former biggest fan, a non-super who uses technology to make him super enough and puts his whole family in danger.
In “Incredibles 2” Mode is back and almost everyone is, too. Unfortunately, there are some replacements. Some are hormonally necessary. Spencer Fox who voiced Dash was 11 when the first movie came out but now is 25 and the lead guitarist for an indie rock band, Charlie Bliss. Sadly, Bud Luckey, to whom the film is dedicated retired in 2014 and passed away in February of this year.
Spoiler alert for those who haven’t seen “The Incredibles,” this movie picks up where that movie ended but we get to see a different viewpoint–a human one. Tony Rydinger (Michael Bird), Violet’s crush who had just asked her out to a movie, is being questioned by Rick Dicker (Jonathan Banks) and will have his memory erased. The Incredibles, as a family, with Frozone, had to fight the Underminer (“Behold, the Underminer! I’m always beneath you, but nothing is beneath me! I hereby declare war on peace and happiness! Soon, all will tremble before me!”). The Underminer robs the Metroville Bank and makes a getaway, pursued by Mr. Incredible. The Underminer escapes but the public is more concerned about the damage caused by the battle than the super heroes efforts. The Super Relocation Program is being scrapped due to public outrage and all that Rick Dicker can provide the Incredibles with (whose last home and possessions were mostly destroyed in the last movie) is two weeks in a motel.
The supers are not without fans, however. Amongst them are the Winston and Evelyn Deavor, a sister and brother team behind the telecommunications company DevTech. Winston is the marketing genius while his sister is in development. Winston contacts Bob, Helen and Lucius, convincing them that the supers suffer from a public relations problem. Winston’s tells them, “Help me bring supers back into the sunlight. We need to change people’s perceptions about superheroes, and Elastigirl is our best play.” Why? According to Winston, studies show that of the three Helen has the least destructive methodology and he selects her to become the face of supers everywhere.
Helen tells Bob: “You know it’s crazy, right? To help my family, I gotta leave it to fix the law, I gotta break it.”
Bob reassures her, “You’ve got to, so our kids can have that choice.”
But how can Helen leave her family? Bob steps up like a good husband and offers to take care of the kids because how hard could that be? Winston moves them into a secluded new house that the kids love. With a new suit designed by someone other than Edna Mode, Alexander Galbaki, and a cool ride, Helen begins in New Urbrem where there’s been chatter about a possible disruption to an opening ceremony for a new public transport system. She soon comes against this movie’s main villain: Screenslayer.
Using technology, the Screenslayer is able to hypnotize normal people into doing things. Screens are everywhere and that means anyone is susceptible, even supers. “The Incredibles” was about Bob regaining his self-esteem and being a middle-aged super, “Incredibles 2” is about Helen re-entering the super sphere workplace on her own and Bob learning to be a house husband. Helen will miss toddler Jack-Jack’s first super moment (not really if you’ve seen both the original movie and the bonus short on the DVD/Blu-ray, “Jack-Jack Attack.” Those are the sacrifices working moms make. Bob has to battle new math (“I don’t KNOW that way, why would they change math? Math is math, math is math!”), dating dilemmas and controlling super baby powers. Who does he call for help? Edna Mode (“Done properly, parenting is a heroic act, done properly”).
This is basically the premise behind, the beginning of the old TV series, “The Outer Limits” and even a bit of “Johnny Quest,” as the kids help save the parents. Clips are played to give nods to those TV series.
Fast, funny and definitely delightful family entertainment with an easy-going message of a family that works together can possibly save the world, this sequel does not disappoint. If you’re wondering where John Ratzenberger’s voice is, it’s with the Underminer and hopefully, we’ll see more of him later, but not a whole decade later.
The cute little animated short that plays before “Incredibles 2” will make you want Chinese food. “Bao” is another family warm-fuzzy film. Bao can be both both a last name and steamed buns.