You better make it worth the wait. When I was a kid, The Incredibles was one of my favorite movies. I remember puffy painting my tennis shoes, sewing a mask and pin-on patch with a puffy-painted "i" all to complete my superhero outfit. I collected the action figures, watched the DVD nearly everyday; it basically occupied my life. You see, that was the type of kid I was; I would see a movie I loved and pretend I lived in that world. And what world would be better to live in as a 10 year old, than one with superheroes and grand adventure?
We've become accustomed by now to Disney making sequels years and years after the original, but luckily the time gap hasn't negatively affected any finished products. While Finding Dory was cute, it undeniably didn't live up to its predecessor Finding Nemo. And we won't even talk about all those straight-to-DVD sequels Disney decided to make in the earlier-mid 2000's (i.e. Cinderella, Pocahontas, Hunchback, Mulan, etc.) So, when the news broke back in 2014 that a full-fledged sequel of one of my favorite childhood movies was happening, I took it with a grain of salt.
With the continuing canon of superhero movies that were made in the 14 years since the original Incredibles, for a sequel to live up to, or even be better than the original would seem to be an impossible feat. But as I watched The Incredibles the night before I saw it's successor, picking apart some things 23 year old film school graduate Greyson noticed that 10 year old puffy-painted zip-up shoes Greyson couldn't, the little kid flutters of excitement filled my stomach. The following morning when I sat in the theater and the beautifully evolved Pixar animation began to roll, I knew Incredibles 2 would be a rare treat that lives up to, and in some aspects surpasses, the original.
Picking up right where we left off, the incredible Parr family; Robert, aka Mr. Incredible (voiced by Craig T. Nelson), Helen, aka Elastigirl (voiced by DMAA nominee Holly Hunter), Violet (voiced by Sarah Vowell), Dash (voiced by Huck Milner) and Jack-Jack (voiced by Eli Fucile) take on the Underminer (voiced by John Ratzenberger). Their actions to stop the Underminder leave downtown wrecked, but catches the eye of Winston Deavor (voiced by DMAA nominee Bob Odenkirk), a tech tycoon who stands against the longstanding legal ban of Supers. Winston, along with his business partner and sister Evelyn (voiced by Catherine Keener), invites Robert, Helen and their Super friend Lucius Best, aka Frozone (voiced by Samuel L. Jackson) to partake in a secret campaign in order for Supers to regain the public's trust and make Supers legal again. When Winston and Evelyn choose Elastigirl to be the face of the plan, Robert has to deal with taking care of the kids all by himself for the first time.
There is something about the voice acting in Disney and Pixar films that usually are a step above the rest. Maybe it's the writing, maybe it's the intricate character designs, or the extremely talented casts they always assemble. As we know from the first film, Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter and Sarah Vowell elevate their character's animation with grit, humor and a wide range of emotions that almost make you forget you're not watching real actors on screen. Huck Milner has to be applauded for replacing the voice of Dash, carrying over the same energy and humor that Spencer Fox gave us in The Incredibles. The voice acting of Bob Odenkirk, Catherine Keener and Sophia Bush are all welcome additions making their characters just as relatable and likeable as our original fan favorites. But of course the adorable words, laughs and noises of Jack-Jack steal the show, so we must all thank Eli Fucile for giving us the most precious baby in all of cinema.
With cameras embedded in her suit, Elastigirl stakes out in the big city, waiting for crime to strike. When the launch of a new metro train line goes awry and Elastigirl springs (or stretches) into action, the Screen Slaver (voiced by Bill Wise) makes his first appearance, hypnotizing innocents through the screens around them to do his evil bidding. Elastigirl's heroic efforts, captured by her suit cam and distributed to news outlets by Winston and Evelyn, bring Supers back into the public eye, attracting more to come out of hiding and joining Winston's effort to be legal once again. Back at home, Robert has to deal with Jack-Jack's evolving powers, the affects being Super has on the real-world adolescence of Violet and Dash, and taking the backseat to Elastigirl's reappearance. Meanwhile, Screen Slaver continues to target his efforts at Elastigirl and as Winston's push for new legislation nears a climax, alliances and motives are tested and revealed, leaving the Incredibles to save the day!
Beyond the advances in animation that time and technology allowed Pixar to develop, what Incredibles 2 expanded on from their first beloved, ground-breaking outing, is story, scoring, and action. With Incredibles 2, we get an expansion on the setting and family dynamic that makes the Parr family. Set in the 60's (most likely) standards of the time are flipped on their head with Helen being the breadwinner, Robert being the homemaker and we can't forget the original social commentary of alienating a minority and making their presence illegal. Through Winston's hopeful thinking and efforts, we see the affect media portrayal can have on social acceptance and in the way Disney has mastered, we don't even know we're in the middle of a lesson. Our interest is unfaltering with the immense action sequences that were kind of only present towards the ending of the first film, which are thrilling, at times hilarious and incredibly entertaining. Matched with more grand and stylized musical scoring by Michael Giacchino, which came intermittently throughout the first film. All these elements coincide perfectly to create a more immersive, humorous and stimulating sequel that can't help but leave you with a smile on your face as you leave the theater.
I'm hesitant to say that Incredibles 2 is an overall better film than the original, because of the original's iconic and beloved status, but when we examine the facts, it just might be.
Holly Hunter (DMAA nominee)
Samuel L. Jackson
Craig T. Nelson
Bob Odenkirk (DMAA nominee)
Nicole Paradis Grindle