5 out of 5
Directed by: Brad Bird
I had a gigantic smile on my face while watching The Incredibles 2, at least at the points where I wasn’t laughing out loud – an achievement in comedy that neither other, recent movies or TV shows have really been able to achieve. This appreciation blossomed into something even more heartfelt as the credits played: entranced by the ending animation, which highlights scenes from the movie in a stylized, simplified manner (also used over the credits in the first film), the roll of names puts the crew first, and it just felt wholly justified. Not that every (most? many?) movie shouldn’t have its behind-the-scenes teams celebrated – and I know it’s extra effort, but I’d recommend making engaging credits a la this flick – but every minute of The Incredibles 2 put me in awe of its construction, so even though I might not know what an assistant something or other exactly does, it felt right to watch their attribution flit by.
This shouldn’t diminish the cast, either – all returning from The Incredibles, plus Bob Odenkirk and Catherine Keener as the promoting brother-sister duo of The Deavers, out to put superheros back on the map – who are absolutely integral to how human and rich Brad Bird’s script and the animation becomes. Without their voices and acting, we couldn’t ‘forget’ that there are actors, and that we’re not just watching the Parr family go through evolving and growing pains as a family and as heroes – a story which manages to be unbelievable surprising, and gregariously entertaining as a result, the whole way through.
There were so many smart decisions here. Bird chose not to go the ‘real time’ route and just picked up where movie one left off: the Underminer attacks, the Parr family ‘saves the day’ but causes damage to the city and the good cheer we assumed they’d earned after the previous movie’s conclusion isn’t there: they are to go back into hiding. It seems odd to be picking up a sequel over a decade after the fact without the usual hand-holding explanations or ellipses that such sequels usually come with, but the idea and characters are so strong it’s not needed, and it allows for the movie to feel that much richer, to not have to take the time for those (general) narrative requirements. Soon, the Deavers are contacting the Parrs with a plan to use good PR to legalize supes once more… but Elastigirl is the chosen headliner, leaving Mr. Incredible to raising the kids. The flick milks this dynamic, of course – Bob wants his wife to be successful, but also wants to be back out there himself, and struggles with understanding the value of his role as a dad – but, again, smartly, this isn’t strictly just a gender-swapped Incredibles, yet, it somehow also fully feets in to the MeToo era of films perfectly, and without being overt about it. It’s just honest with its characters.
The bid for legitimacy is soon beset by ‘The Screenslaver,’ who hypnotizes viewers through any available screen – his dialogue an obvious but (again…) not overtly done commentary on pop culture and the film’s themes – but this plot thrust goes nowhere I was expecting, and I was absolutely delighted the whole way through.
By everything. Bird and his team stuff so many little human touches in here that it puts every other damn film to shame. And I love that the flick was a success, dashing away thoughts that you can’t put out a flick of this nature – intelligent, kid-friendly, non-pandering – and still have it be both a financial win and a damned fantastic film.