Jacob Richardson | 12/06/2018
14 years on, and just as raucously funny and effortlessly entertaining.
When a brief tussle with the nefarious Underminer goes south, the incredible family of Mr Incredible (Craig T Nelson), Elastigirl (Holly Hunter), Dash (Huck Milner), Violet (Sarah Vowell) and Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile) are apprehended by the police, reminded once again that supers are illegal. Frozone (Samuel L Jackson), however, comes across Winston and Evelyn Deavor. The pair represents the marketing personality and the technological brains (respectively) behind one of the biggest telecommunications companies in the world, and they convince Mr Incredible, Elastigirl and Frozone to resurrect their superhero personas to fight crime on camera, in the interest of trying to overturn the law. Intriguingly, however, they aren’t after Mr Incredible’s brawn, but Elastigirl's talents; leading to Elastigirl taking the spotlight and Mr Incredible dealing with the Violet’s dating problems, Dash’s homework and Jack-Jack’s burgeoning powers.
The first Incredibles film, released 14 years ago, has achieved a near mythic status in the cosmos of Disney/Pixar creations for it’s sharp wit, engaging characters and incredibly quotable dialogue (honey, where’s my super suit?). It is thus with great expectations that, this many years on, the sequel hits, as evidenced by the cute intro from the cast at the start. Needless to say, director Brad Bird manages to deliver on those expectations.
While the original set up the Underminer as the sequel’s villain, he is quickly dealt with to advance the family onto the true villain of the piece. It’s not surprising (the Underminer was largely a throwaway gag in the original), but it also leads Bird to treading some of the same ground with the employer as baddie trope. It’s handled well, so it isn’t too problematic, but one wishes they had of pushed the boundaries with their work here.
Largely, that’s the only issue, which is remarkable given the topics the film is dealing with, particularly around women taking centre stage and men’s reluctance to let them do so. Bird treads very carefully, and manages to avoid anything problematic.
The Incredibles 2 is also very, very funny. It’s refreshing to see this kind of humour back on the big screen. So many kids films these days are filled with meta asides and adult references to give the older audience something to enjoy, that it feels like kids and parents are laughing in staggered bursts. Comparatively, The Incredibles 2 recognises that quality jokes, even if aimed at a more juvenile audience, can be funny to all when well thought out and delivered. The film is consistently laugh out loud funny, and it’s a testament to the thought that has gone into the piece.
No-one is more funny than Jack-Jack, whose burgeoning array of powers create all manner of havoc in the household, and in the climactic battle. His dramatic and epic struggle with a racoon in his backyard, in particular, is hilarity on the big screen.
The film also has heart. While the original focused on the theme of coming together as a family to face a threat bigger than any individual, here the idea is somewhat flipped on its head. In this film, coming together as a family doesn’t always mean all donning super suits and fighting the newest villain. Sometimes, it’s about helping with the small things, so that others are free to do the big things. It’s an admirable message, as is the consistent theme of unjust law and the struggle to overthrow them. Thankfully for those less inclined to the politicism of a narrative, there’s an abundance of humour and smarts to lose yourself in as well.
The Incredibles 2 is smart, funny and witty. All hail Jack-Jack.