Disney and Pixar’s long awaited sequel, The Incredibles 2, is officially in theaters. Director Brad Bird and company brings us back into the world of the Parr family with a sequel that picks up where the original leaves off.
*Please note there are some sequences that may cause an epileptic seizure. Just know that going in.
I would like to preface this article by saying that I am a huge Brad Bird fan. The Iron Giant is one of my favorite animated pictures for the simple fact that, even though it is aimed for children, it doesn’t pull back any punches. It grapels with some dark issues and doesn’t treat the audience like they are stupid or even ignorant of themes like death, militarization, growing up in a single-parent household, non-family member role models. He continues this into his other work, like the first Incredibles film.
When you break it down, The Incredibles, despite being about super powered people, deals with incredibly human issues. It is not a movie about superpowered people, but people who happen to have super powers. Ultimately, it makes them more relatable and identifiable as they go through issues that we, ourselves, might be going through or relate to. If we took the superpowers out of the incredibles, we’d still have a story about: A strained marriage where the wife thinks the husband is cheating on her when he’s at his new job. A man going through a midlife crisis. A son who bullies with peers and teachers due to lack of guidance. A girl who feels invisible around her family and peers. Throw a baby in on top of that and we can see how the superpowers just amplify a story that was already human.
Fourteen years later, we are picking up where we left off, a broken family unit with super powers. Albeit, the resolution of the first film made them tighter, it does not erase the issues that were there to create new ones, it shifts into newer issues on top of the old ones. Violet is still a teenager trying to find herself and go on dates. Dash still struggles with school and impulse control. Bob and Helen’s marriage still isn’t perfect, and they struggle with opposing ideas and who has should be doing what.
Again, what Brad Bird is able to accomplish in this movie should be the standard for what all movies should try to achieve. A master of his craft, Brad Bird uses The Incredibles 2 to tell a story worth telling without holding back. It is dark, bad things do happen, people make mistakes. Yet, the film is also funny, smart, charming, and, at times, heartwarming. A more accurate portrayal of the ups and downs of life. Much like in Ratatouille (Bird’s other Pixar film), the understanding of the medium is used to effectively make physical comedy that does not break from the rules that were established in the world, but still makes you laugh at the absurdity of the situation.
It was nice to see a quasi flip in roles as well between Helen and Bob in a way that felt organic and not just because other franchises feel the need to rebrand with female leads. It was fun to see Bob struggle with his patriarchal role and desire to provide versus doing what he can to help his family. It was awesome to see Helen go out into the crime fighting world and explore an exciting and well thought out (albeit somewhat predictable) action plot. My fear when the trailer came out was that this was going to be an animated version of Mr. Mom and I’m glad that I was woefully wrong. The role reversal allowed both Bob and Helen to grow as characters in a way that I don’t think we could have gotten if the whole family was involved or Bob went of to be Mr. Incredible again. If that were the choice they went with, it would have felt like more of the same. Instead the production team spent years to make sure the decisions these characters made felt real. All while incorporating new characters and ideas in such a way that it beautifully avoided sequelitis.
Some critics have stated that the first film is better than the sequel. Which is a mute point as The Incredibles 2 is so heavily reliant on the fact it is a continuation that it just could not work with the first. Much in the same way that the second domino would not fall without force from the first. That is not to take away from either film as The Incredibles set a great foundation for a fan favorite Pixar film. By setting up the Parr family so well and so human, the connections made then were simply reawakened by the sequel. I hope that Pixar continues to explore with these characters, as it is building up into a great, real, family fun franchise in and of itself.
As of now, this is what I’m going to be placing my money on for film of the summer. It was well worth the wait.
The Incredibles 2 is now playing in theaters.