It’s been 14 years since The Incredibles, and writer/director/voicer Brad Bird has brought back the superheroic Parr family for a follow-up that’s just as witty but expands, deepens, sharpens and updates the first film’s themes, creating something pretty damn wonderful.
Using a rude word to describe the film seems appropriate because this is the first Pixar movie ever to feature profanity. There are other records here as well: it’s the longest Pixar movie ever at just under two hours; it’s the first sequel to one of their PG movies; and it’s one of their most expensive movies yet.
Three months after the events of the first film the Parrs/Incredibles are introduced going into battle with Underminer (Pixar regular John Ratzenberger’s voice) as he villainously tries to rob Metroville bank with a huge drilling contraption straight out of classic science fiction.
Super-strong Bob/Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson), super-stretchy Helen/Elastigirl (Holly Hunter), super-forcefield-and-invisibility-wrangling teen Violet (Sarah Vowell), super-fast young Dash (Huck Milner taking over from Spencer Fox) and baby Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile) thwart the baddie (no spoilers necessary) with help from old pal Lucius Best/Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson), and then there’s a striking change to one of the original film’s subtexts. Yes, instead of being hit by lawsuits and forced into Witness Protection, The Incredibles here are criticised by the authorities and told that it would have been easier, safer and cheaper if they’d just done nothing.
Again forced to keep their secret identities just that — secret — by the FBI’s Rick Decker (Jonathan Banks), the family are later contacted by millionaire superhero fan Winston Deavor (Bob ‘Saul’ Odenkirk), who wants Helen to fight crime for some good publicity in New Urbrem, which leaves a pretty hurt Bob to stay at home and look after the kids. There’s a little #metoo as he must deal with angsty Violet, who finds that superheroism is hard to schedule with the teen dating scene, all-systems-go Dash and Jack-Jack, who chooses the most inconvenient moments to manifest his own powers. In a lovely sequence he takes the bub to extremely eccentric family friend Edna Mode, again voiced by director Bird himself, who’s obviously having a lot of fun.
The other plot, however, has Elastigirl uncover the nefarious activities of the ‘Screenslaver’, a fiendish figure that no one can apprehend because they turn victims into hynotised and brainwashed puppets via any available screens. While this might be a somewhat obvious bit of satire, it’s nevertheless pleasingly powerful, and clear enough that even iPhone-controlled kiddies will get it, and perhaps even put their mobiles down for a moment.
With the fabulous voice cast in top form and characters it’s impossible not to love, this is certainly one of the best family-film outings released this — or any — year, and demonstrates once again that Pixar are truly caped crusaders fighting for truth, justice and the animated way.
Rated PG. Incredibles 2 is in cinemas now.