Incredibles 2

 

            Weary of all the superhero movies yet?  Well, that's clearly a dynamic in this animated series.  In the original, the costumed crusaders were forced to go underground, and hide their secret identities, and live like “ordinary” people, because well, society had grown tired of them.  They caused as much trouble as they saved.  When they showed up, people got hurt and infrastructure got wrecked.  So, the authorities reasoned, why not just outlaw them?  That is, until you find out you actually need them....

            The sequel comes 14 years later, but the characters haven't aged.  They're still in hiding, trying to live as a “normal” family, but it's not easy for them.  Mom, Helen Parr/Elastigirl (the voice of Holly Hunter) is trying to balance the needs of her whole family:  her loving but slightly inept husband, Bob, aka Mr. Incredible (the voice of Craig T. Nelson), their smart but sarcastic teenage daughter Violet (the voice of Sarah Vowell), their quick but impulsive son Dash (the voice of Huck Milner), and the baby, JJ (the voice of Eli Fucile).  We like all of them, because they feel so real, as people with real gifts, but obvious flaws, like mosts of us.  Oh, for emotional support there's the long-time family friend, Frozone (the voice of Samuel L. Jackson).

            The plot revolves around a successful commercial company headed by a brother and sister team who want to do what they can to get superheroes legalized again.  Winston Deavor (the voice of Bob Odenkirk) is the “p.r.” man and his sister Evelyn (Katherine Keener) is the inventor.  Together they recruit Elastigirl to come out of hiding in order to pull off some successful rescues.  They figure this will ease the public into thinking that maybe we could use a few superheroes, after all.  The fact that she's female makes her less macho than her husband (not to mention that her previous collateral damage rate was much lower).

            This leaves hubby to mind the home front, so naturally, we have a lot of house husband humor (and ineptness).  Some of it is standard issue sitcom:  daughter has her first date that doesn't go well.  Son needs help with homework but Dad doesn't understand the new math.  Baby won't go to sleep without lots of stories, and even then, Dad gets sleepy before the baby does.  But he keeps assuring his wife that he's got it all covered.  Except he doesn't.

            Helen, meanwhile, gleefully bounds into action, but in retrospect, there's something about it that just didn't quite feel right, and she doesn't think it was just her being rusty.  She handles the newfound media attention fairly well, but she misses doing the little daily stuff with her family (the classic working Mom dilemma).  All of this is conveyed to the viewer in some excellent graphics and computer-enhanced images.  Spiced up with a little humor.

            Yes, it actually is fun for the whole family.  And an appealing successor to an artful original.

 

Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, DFW Film Critics Association