Thursday, June 21, 2018

Tonight's Movie: Incredibles 2 (2018)

It's hard to believe it's been 14 years since the release of one of Pixar's very best movies, THE INCREDIBLES (2004).

In a nice touch, INCREDIBLES 2 (2018) is preceded by a brief featurette in which cast members thank the fans for waiting so long and express the hope the audience will enjoy the movie. I'm happy to report that I definitely did!

INCREDIBLES 2, like the original film, was written and directed by Brad Bird, who also voices "fashion designer to superheroes" Edna Mode.

Composer Michael Giacchino also returns, along with the entire cast, excepting Spencer Fox as Dash, who's voiced this time around by Huckleberry Milner.

The movie picks up right where THE INCREDIBLES leaves off. Bob (Craig T. Nelson) and Helen (Holly Hunter) Parr, aka Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl, are arrested after trying to stop the Underminer (John Ratzenberger), as superheroes are still illegal. They're released and move into a motel with their children Violet (Sarah Vowell), Dash, and baby Jack Jack (Eli Fucile).

Uncertain of their next step, the Parrs are unexpectedly approached by Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk), who has a plan to make superheroes legal again. Elastigirl is at the forefront of his plan, as a sort of "kinder, gentler" superhero; the family needs an income, so Bob agrees to stay home with the kids while Helen is at "work."

Bob is soon completely worn out dealing with the kids, from Dash's "new math" to the sudden realization that not only does Jack Jack have powers, he has lots and lots...and lots...of them! Fortunately it's Edna to the rescue when Bob is at his wit's end trying to keep his baby boy under control.

Meanwhile Helen is enjoying her newfound popularity with the public, but little does she know that there is more to a new villain, Screenslaver (Bill Wise), than she suspects.

As with the original film, the family dynamics are pitch perfect, from Violet's adolescent angst to a very relatable scene with a mathbook ("Why would they change math? Math is math!").

Baby Jack Jack is a total scene stealer, especially when he goes into combat against a raccoon, and when he's introduced to Edna, utter hilarity ensues. I was not expecting Edna to be baby friendly, but her delight in finding ways to manage Jack Jack's powers is really wonderful. (P.S. I'm wondering if Disney will eventually write and publish a complete version of Jack Jack's bedtime book, DOOZLES ARE DOZING.)

Samuel L. Jackson also returns as Bob's best friend Lucius, aka Frozone, and Kimberly Adair Clark is also on hand again as the voice of Lucius's unseen wife Honey.

I found this 118-minute movie well-plotted and completely enjoyable. Be sure to stay all the way through the end credits, which are superbly animated and show off Giacchino's jazzy score to good effect, along with some fun superhero theme music.

(Fun trivia: Three of the four trombonists on the INCREDIBLES 2 soundtrack have served as the Grand Marshal for the Trombone Christmas concert my husband organizes in Anaheim every year.)

Input from other reviewers: Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times finds the movie "sparkling," while Brian Truitt of USA Today compares it to other Pixar films and says it "surpasses most everything without TOY STORY in the title." He also notes "Every scene involving Jack-Jack is a complete joy." Leonard Maltin's only complaint was that it was too long, but he suggests that viewers won't care as "They'll be too busy having a good time."

Parental Advisory: This film is rated PG. There is a bit of bad language which should have been dropped, but studios seem to fear a G rating.

A trailer is here.

INCREDIBLES 2 was preceded by the Pixar short BAO (2018), about a Chinese dumpling which suddenly comes to life as a baby. I didn't particularly enjoy this one as there was no line connecting the fantasy of most of the short with the reality of the last minute or two, which made it hard to follow. More often than not I like Pixar shorts but this one was just a little too "out there" for me to appreciate.

INCREDIBLES 2 is a recommended film which will be finding its way onto my Disney/Pixar Blu-ray shelf in due course!


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