Director: Brad Bird
Studio: Pixar Animation
Rated: PG (For action sequences and some brief mild language)
It’s been 14 years since Brad Bird gave the world “The Incredibles,” a clever little spin on the superhero movie where the heroes were forced to live a life without the extraordinary, and, in fact, were forced to live so ordinary that it was a struggle (particularly for Mr. Incredible – the patriarch of the family – who certainly missed the “glory days” of being super). The movie struck a nerve with kids who loved the colors and action, while teenagers found a lot to like in the rebellious attitude of the characters who didn’t want to conform to societies norms, and the adults could find much to relate to in the mid-life crisis aspect of the story. In short, everyone had something to like, it was a smash hit, and even walked home with two Academy Awards. After years of dabbling in the world of live action, Bird has returned to Pixar to give us “Incredibles II,” a follow-up that may be the very thing the first movie despised so much: a very ordinary sequel.
That doesn’t mean we’re discussing a bad movie here. In fact, “Incredibles II” has so much to like, that I decided to see it a second time quickly after the first to better articulate my thoughts about it. But while the first film managed to still surprise after the first few viewings, my admiration for the sequel fell apart a lot faster in the second viewing, enough so that a third viewing in going to be put on the back burner (lest I fear it lose its luster too soon). The story most surprised me in how Bird spent years claiming he didn’t want to make this movie until he had an idea that was just as good as the original, only for that to mean he essentially wanted to make the same movie again. This time around Elastagirl (the original name of Mrs. Incredible; voiced by Holly Hunter) has been recruited by a lawyer who wants her to be the face of a political campaign to convince lawmakers that superheroes can, in fact, be legal again, and a benefit to society.
Despite being shocked that his wife would be considered more of a “friendly face” for the campaign than he would, Mr. Incredible lets his wife go out on the town, taking on the responsibilities of raising the kids (particularly Jack-Jack, who has since developed some powers of his own), relearning math, and finding his place in life without using his superhero hero powers, and…well, I think that’s all I need to tell you folks. As you can see, not much has changed in fourteen years. Well, as far as this film is concerned. The movie itself may be taking place immediately after the events in the first film ended, but more than a decade has passed since Bird was out directing live action movies. Superhero movies, which were once limited to one or two a year, can now total up to almost a dozen releases a year. The original movie aimed to turn the genre upside down, but since then Ryan Reynolds revived Deadpool as an irreverent smart ass (and did so to the tune of over $2 billion dollars).
For that matter, “Teen Titans Go! To the Movies” is set to capture some of that irreverence again (this time for a slightly more family friendly audience). Since then, “The Dark Knight” and “Logan” have proven superhero movies are capable of much depth, and provided much more than what we find here. “Incredibles II” even offers a twist villain, which would be effective…if Disney and Pixar hadn’t been doing it virtually every movie since “Meet the Robinsons” was released. There is little here to surprise anymore. Granted, this isn’t totally the fault of Brad Bird, who is still one of the most gifted directors out there. This is just the reality of a movie that had a built-in fan base waiting for more adventures, in a genre that is not normally allowed to take risk, produced by a studio that is treating their signature product (AKA: animation) with less and less respect. “Incredibles II” IS solid fun all around…it just might not be (forgive me here) the ‘incredible’ experience you have been waiting for!
Parents, while there is the usual amount of violence you'd expect, parents might be surprised to discover this is Pixar's first film with profanities in it. Combined with the adult themes (as well as a scene involving throbbing lights), might make this one more appropriate for a slightly older crowd. Recommended for ages 9 and up.