Just when superhero fatigue is approaching lethal levels, along comes Brad Bird and his fabulous family that fights together to save the day. It’s been 14 years since The Incredibles, which is a long stretch for a sequel (and eons in terms of superhero movie evolution), but it’s worth the wait. And if it inevitably lacks the original’s freshness, believe me there is no lack of surprises. Not a parody. Too easy.
In a nod to female super-empowerment, it focuses on mom, Helen/Elastigirl (voice by Holly Hunter). She’s off taking part in the battle against a nefarious villain who controls people through the screens they watch and carry around, named (what else?) the Screenslaver. Gotta love it.
Meanwhile dad, Bob/Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) faces the arguably more daunting challenge of being a temporarily single parent to their kids Violet (Sarah Vowell) and Dash (Huck Milner). The big surprise is baby Jack-Jack, whose powers have not yet emerged. Possibly the film’s best sequence is when they do, in an unsupervised scrap with a local raccoon. And don’t forget family friend Lucius/Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson).
The abundant humor is character-driven in this boisterous, radical yet retro crowd-pleaser. The script is strong and the direction superb, and it’s nice to see that Bird has not lost his subversive mojo. The film emphasizes style over mayhem and is at heart more a sweet family story than a save-the-world dazzler (though it’s that too). Truly for kids of all ages. (118 min)