Incredibles 2” would be one of the most delightful and exciting animated films ever if it weren’t the sequel to an even better film. Nevertheless, this is a good problem to have, and it’s as worthy a follow-up as it’s possible to be. This film combines wise and wry family drama with fantasy action with the same marvelous voice cast, plus the gloriously raspy addition of Catherine Keener as a worthy friend and foil to fellow working (Elasti-)girl Holly Hunter.
This film picks up at the moment the last film ended, with villain The Underminer giving the Parr family a chance to flex their super muscles. As with the first film, the conflict between legalizing or hiding superheroes rages on, and this time around, publicity-savvy billionaire Winston Deavor (voiced by Bob Odenkirk) takes up the cause for somewhat convoluted reasons having to do with the death of his parents. He and his sister (Keener) sponsor Elastigirl as the most relatable, reasonable face of superhero-dom, leaving Mr. Incredible the formidable task of caring for the kids.
The criticism against superheroes is that they are too brash and sloppy, and they often leave behind an even bigger mess than what a villain intended, but Elastigirl brings a feminine restraint to her battle with an emerging super villain, the Screenslaver, who hypnotizes normal people to villainous ends.
While Elastigirl is earning fame and accolades fighting the Screenslaver, Mr. Incredible becomes Mr. Mom, and the various domestic dramas are at least as interesting as the crime ones. The Parrs’ super kids were given even more hilarious stuff to do in this film, particularly baby Jack-Jack, whose enormous range of unruly super powers emerge to memorable effect. Kid viewers will revel in the many victories their fellow youngsters win.
My only complaint is that the central argument once more comes down to whether superheroes should be legal or not, but there is such a fantastic, hilarious and exciting movie built around this question that I doubt most kid viewers could even articulate that this is an element of the film.
The climax of “Incredibles 2” surpasses its source film in action and excitement, and seems to reflect the dozens of live-action superhero movies that have been made in the 14 years between the two films. Sometimes it comes closer to a superhero movie than a “cartoon,” and it ends up delivering the best of both worlds.
It would be almost impossible to make a sequel to “The Incredibles” that’s as good as the original film and, while “Incredibles 2” comes pretty close, it does not entirely match its predecessor’s level of inventiveness and delight. There is really no way to replicate the feeling of discovery the first film created, because we have already discovered the amusing and fertile premise of a family hiding their super powers.
“Incredibles 2” exists in a world that has inspired and launched untold knockoffs of the situation it originated. Compared to most other kids’ movies it’s a triumph, and its slight inferiority is reflective of the quality of the first one, not the flaws of the second one. It is certainly hilarious, thrilling, well-made, clever and satisfying.
“Incredibles 2” is now playing at all listed multiplex theaters and Nexus Cinema Dining.