Fourteen years ago “The Incredibles” blazed into the cultural zeitgeist, and it was an instant win for Pixar as the company showed off its skill for creating compelling characters who live inside a stunning world all created and animated by a computer.
Written and directed by Brad Bird, the superhero comedy hit the right tone, and the action adventure film was just as exciting as anything that earned that title inside the genre. That was then though—circa 2018, “Incredibles 2,” which Bird also wrote and directed, isn’t nearly as good as the original.
“Incredibles 2” begins where the first “Incredibles” ended, and that’s with the family fighting a villain and his giant spinning screw. In this version being a superhero is illegal, and so our superhero family (the Parrs) are underground, living like forgotten refugees in a dismal place called Safari Court Motel.
In comes Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk), the head of a massive and uber-wealthy telecommunications company and a superhero fan who wants to help bring supers back. He calls the “easy-on-the-eyes” Elastigirl to join him on his seemingly impossible mission. Her job is easy, to stop crime fighting, which on her first day includes stopping a runaway train. It’s great PR and Winston milks it in every way he can. This leaves dad Bob at home with the kids, where he learns that playing Mr. Mom is more difficult than he imagined; he falls into a deep funk and becomes deeply sleep-deprived. Meanwhile the world isn’t safe because there is an evil cyber-villain on the loose by the name of Screenslaver, who uses computer screens and fancy goggles to turn everyone—including the superheroes assembled by Winston—into obedient hypnotized zombies.
The writer makes his points, and I suspect this is a great script to read. It’s charming that Bob feels odd as a stay-at-home dad. His wife, Helen (Elastigirl), is loving her job and out of the shadows of her husband (Mr. Incredible). The kids are learning how to deal with their dad as mom and their mother’s long absence in comical ways.
In “Incredibles 2,” the superhero family saves the day, but emotionally it leaves you feeling very little.
The best part of the movie is when the character Edna (Brad Bird), the miniature fashionista, appears. She’s amazing—of course, darling—and has gained even more of her legendary, wizardly gifts for designing the perfect outfit. That’s exactly what she does for the Parrs’ youngest child, Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile), who displays unusual gifts even for a superhero, including an ability to make fire, morph into a devil, levitate and use laser vision. Honestly, the kids and Edna should have their own movie and television show—well, Edna should have “everything, darling”—and she would agree!
“The Incredibles 2” is incredible because Edna and baby Jack save the day, as only they could.