Movie Review: 'Incredibles 2'

The family superhero sequel scores with humor, action and realistic family dynamics.
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Photo courtesy of DIsney Pixar
Bob Parr (voiced by Craig T. Nelson) discovers the joys and challenges of being a stay-at-home dad for Baby Jack-Jack, Dash (Huck Milner) and Violet (Sarah Vowell) in "Incredibles 2."

It’s been 14 years since 2004’s hit “The Incredibles” and now the Parr family is back, with mom Helen/Elastigirl (voiced by Holly Hunter), dad Bob/Mr.Incredible (Craig T. Nelson), and kids Violet (Sarah Vowell), Dash (Huck Milner) and Baby Jack-Jack. The super sequel is not only about superheroes defeating villains, but how a family juggles the responsibilities of raising children with the demands of work and career.

The story begins with the Parr family operating under their superhero identity The Incredibles. They stop a bank robbery and bring the villain to justice. The authorities, however, are concerned about the mass destruction of property caused by the incident. Without warning, the government passes a law making it illegal to be a superhero. This means the Parr family must abandon their secret identities, hang up their superhero suits and stop fighting crime. With Helen and Bob out of work, they wonder how they can put food on the table and support their family.

Opportunity knocks with a company named “DevTech” that is run by a wealthy brother and sister team: Winston (voiced by Bob Odenkirk) and Evelyn Deavor (Catherine Keener.) DevTech wants to reverse the anti-superhero law and change public perception of superheroes to be lifesavers and crime stoppers.

DevTech wants Helen for the job, insisting that she solves crimes with less damage than Bob. She is a stretchy super power. As Elastigirl, she can bend, stretch and twist herself into any shape needed to solve the trickiest of mysteries. It’s a fantastic opportunity, but Helen hesitates, because she wants to be home with her children. In response, Bob promises to take care of the kids. He tells her that it will be easy to be a stay-at-home Dad.  

DevTech outfits Helen with a new superhero suit which contains a body camera. Everything Elastigirl does is videotaped (and documented) so that it can be telecast by the media and eventually to be used to change the law about superheroes. Elastigirl’s first job is to stop a train from crashing. She discovers a diabolical villain named Screen Slayer who hypnotized the train conductor and sped up the train to make it crash.

While Elastigirl is hard at work stopping Screenslaver, there’s domestic drama at home. Mr. Incredible is completely overwhelmed. Baby Jack-Jack can’t seem to fall asleep and his developing superpowers allow him to burst into flames and transform into a monster baby. Jack-Jack's brother, 10-year-old Dash, is frustrated trying to learn new math from his old-school dad, and 14-year-old Violet is socially awkward, outspoken and sarcastic. She has a crush on a teenage boy, but he’s been hypnotized and does not remember anything about her. 

Appropriateness for Children

“Incredibles 2” is rated PG for action sequences and brief mild language. In terms of violence, there are intense chase and fight scenes, life-and-death situations, mass destruction of property, car and train crashes, frequent peril, use of weapons and laser beams shooting out of a character's eyes. Baby Jack-Jack transforms into a toddler-size monster, spewing flames with horns popping out of his head.

The villain Screenslaver, a darker character than the villain Syndrome in the first "The Incredibles, wears a strange mask and he speaks with a creepy robotic, auto-tuned voice. He also uses flashing lights and eerie music in order to hypnotize, brainwash and engage in mind control. In several scenes, the villain pops up out of nowhere, hijacks computer screens, and we see people’s eyes glaze over as they go under his spell. The victims are defenseless, and things are happening beyond their control. The only way to stop the villain is with superpowers. It’s obviously something that everyday people don’t have.

Brainwashing is also used to make people forget everything. A pizza delivery man is brainwashed to break the law and is held responsible for it. A train conductor is brainwashed to betray his job responsibilities and crash the train. Both of these people have no recollection of anything after being mind controlled. Violet has a crush on a boy who witnesses her using superpowers, and is later mind controlled to forget everything. Without giving too much away, even the Incredibles themselves fall under the spell of mind control, in a climatic showdown towards the end of the movie.

Final Take

“Incredibles 2” is to be commended for a thought-provoking plot, spectacular animation, a dynamic cast and lots of humor, even in the action sequences. Moviegoers will enjoy seeing the characters from the original film, including Lucius Best (aka Frozone) and Edna “E” Mode, the superhero-costume designer. There's also a subplot involving a small handful of B-superheroes, each with their own questionable super abilities. Watch out for Reflux, who calls on his powers of regurgitation.

On a larger scale, the movie shows characters working together to solve problems and that justice prevails even in the bleakest of circumstances. Bob’s job as a stay-at-home dad turns out to be just as important and challenging as Mom’s work as Elastigirl. “Incredibles 2” reminds us to never underestimate the power of family who sticks together no matter what comes their way.