Though Pixar and Marvel are two separate production companies, both are distributed by Disney, a context that becomes problematic as the sequel to one of the best Pixar movies ever begins. The superhero Parr family battles a villain called the Underminer in Metroville and in the process destroys the city in order to save it. That is the same plot device that activated one of the Avengers movies, so you accept that fact as either a comment on Marvel or a shameless simulation of the studio style.
In any case, the mayhem leads to the banning of superheroes and the Parr’s laying low until they are approached by a rich investor (Bob Odenkirk) and his inventor sister (Catherine Keener), who have a scheme to make superheroes popular among the public again and thus rescind the ban. After movng the family into some palatial, ultra-modernist digs, they recruit Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) to be the sole face of their project while her husband, Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson), is left at home to raise the kids and keep house. So while Elastigirl is saving her new urban home from the likes of a villain who can control all technologies and bend mortals to his will (thus making him the ultimate super villain), Mr. Incredible is at home trying to help his son Dash with his homework, giving pep talks to his lovelorn teenage daughter Violet, and learning that the couple’s newborn, Jack-Jack, has pretty awesome super powers of his own.
Director Brad Bird isn’t coy about the role reversal cliches here, and, in fact, does pretty well by them, considering how moldy some of them are. Mr. Incredible’s cluelessnes with his daughter is standard sitcom material, but his anxiety about his place not only in the family but in the scheme of things is treated with a certain bold sincerity. At the same time, while Elastigirl is successfully carrying out the PR purposes of the siblings she serves, she worries that she’s enjoying herself too much at the expense of her children, whose development she’s missing out on. Bird is too much of an entertainer to allow these elements to get too heavy, but the movie’s poignant moments work more than they don’t. In any event, when things get too heavy, he can always go back to Jack-Jack, whose discovery of his own powers is pretty hilarious.
But if Marvel was the model for the opening it also ends up being the template for the big finale, where the whole family gets back together to defeat the aforementioned super-villain in earnest. It’s a wild, exhilirating, imcomprehensible ride, the kind of overcooked action filmmaking that most audiences take for granted now but which Pixar enthusiasts have fortunately been spared from having to sit through. In many ways, Incredibles 2 is better than the original, but it also succumbs to every superhero trope the original so successfully trashed.
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Incredibles 2 home page in Japanese.
photo (c) 2018 Disney/Pixar