A true family movie, Incredibles 2 presents a welcome message: kids can do anything, but Mom doesn’t have to do everything (and neither does Dad).
Perhaps the most anticipated animated sequel in recent years, Incredibles 2 plays up nostalgia, not only with throwbacks to the first movie (for example, Frozone’s wife makes a signature off-screen comment), but with a vibrant, 1960s classic comic-book style. From the cars to an old-school motel, from red-boothed diners, neon clocks, and pumpkin-orange couches to music reminiscent of James Bond films, the retro setting is foregrounded, as is its straightforward message about family roles and responsibilities.
The Incredibles left the Parr family of superheroes united, in matching uniforms, against the Underminer. The sequel opens with that epic battle. But after the fight gets messy and turns the public against superheroes again, it is up to Elastigirl, alias Helen Parr, alias Mom, to go solo and prove that superheroes are the good gals.
Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) is conflicted at first about going back to the job she left to start her family. The ideological questions and messages are boldly apparent. Elastigirl faces the choices, hopes, and concerns many women deal with, even being asked if it feels good to be “out front again.” Everything rests on her shoulders alone. Though strong and capable, the solitary nature of her mission is emphasized, from her new super suit that no longer matches her family’s to her updated Elasticycle, a far cry from the family car.
Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson), now a stay-at-home dad, mumbles in frustration, “What am I, the substitute parent?” as he questions assumed gender roles in good humor. If Mom can be just as good a breadwinner as Dad, he can be just as good a nurturer.
The challenge of parenting enters a whole new dimension when he discovers that baby Jack-Jack has lots and lots of random powers, a metaphor for a child’s practically unlimited potential. In fact, the Incredible kids play the biggest role in saving the day.
The point seems to be that it’s not about whether men or women, mom or dad, is better at pursuing individual goals or dreams, but about how everyone has to give up a little and love a lot to be a family . . . or save the world.
Like Jack-Jack, it is not subtle, but it’s good.
The central conflict is a bit familiar. The principle villain, the Screenslaver, is a tech-savvy power like Syndrome, the villain of the first film. The real enemy is not who the audience thinks at first. And again, one member of the Incredible family is hired, but she needs help from the whole family in the end. That doesn’t make the film less enjoyable though; it’s truly everything we loved about the original.
Incredibles 2 is relatable, and it’s not just family-friendly but family-supportive. It doesn’t show a perfect family; instead, it shows a connected, supportive family. In this individualist world, that’s a pretty incredible picture. (Disney/Pixar)