Animation takes a long time. If a film is successful and the studio wants to make a sequel, they’d better not hold their breath for a quick turnaround. Some animated movies (like How to Train Your Dragon) make the gap part of the story and age the characters as if their lives continued while we weren’t looking. If The Incredibles used this technique, there would be a 14 year break between the first movie and Incredibles 2, meaning that Jack Jack (voiced by Eli Fucile) would be a moody teenager, Dash (voiced by Huck Milner) would be a disoriented backpacker, and Violet (voiced by Sarah Vowell) would be a woke millennial pushing 30. It just doesn’t carry the same tone as the first movie. Thankfully the directors chose another path and picked up Incredibles 2 roughly 10 seconds after The Incredibles wrapped up.
Despite recent heroic actions of the Incredible family, superheroing is still illegal. In order to change this, it’s going to take a marketing genius, a yacht full of diplomats, and a spokesperson to woo the media. Who better to step up than the strong, charming, charismatic, empathetic Elastigirl/Helen Parr (voiced by Holly Hunter). Businessman and game-changer, Winston Deavor (voiced by Bob Odenkirk), hires Helen to get back in the game and change the public’s perception of superheroes. This means that Helen will have to don the suit, leap tall buildings, and risk leaving the kids alone with her husband, Mr. Incredible/Bob Parr (voiced by Craig T. Nelson). As a man of the spotlight, it kills Mr. Incredible to stay at home while his wife catches criminals and puts heroes back in business, but he “understands” that it’s the “right thing” to do. It turns out that being a single dad is an extremely demanding job, especially with a baby that’s developing new and shockingly deadly powers every day. Bob, Helen, Violet, Dash, and Jack Jack have to juggle growing up with saving the world, securing their futures, and making sure that Jack Jack lives long enough for mommy to get home from work.
Invisibility, energy shields, and super speed are all very cool, but who’d have thought that Jack Jack would be the most powerful of them all? He could have become The Regurgitator, like most babies, but instead he’s a jolly, hyper, curious toddler with laser eyes, combustible skin, and a genetic key to another dimension. In any other movie we’d be locking Jack Jack in his room and calling the exorcist. I’d like to say that Bob handles him like a pro, but who am I kidding? There are no baby books on how to manage duplication, shape shifting, and a serious addiction to cookies.
Bob most assuredly does his best. Mr. Incredible sacrifices countless hours of sleep trying to be super dad and keep up with his kids needs. His eyelids droop, his hygiene takes a hit, and he has a drawer full of AAA batteries because he keeps forgetting that they need AA batteries. Even with his extraordinary strength and a super suit tucked away in the secret lair, Bob is just another exhausted human trying to make parenting look easy. Dads try so hard.
Somehow, Helen seems to have the easier job, even though she’s catching runaway trains and arresting dangerous criminals. At least, Helen’s job comes more naturally than parenting comes to Bob. Incredibles 2 champions the Dad as the guy who puts gas in the car, but it most definitely gives Mom the keys. Helen kicks ass as Elastigirl 2.0, whipping through the streets on an electric bike that’s undeniably totally wicked. She finds a new friend and female ally in Evelyn Deavor (voiced by Catherine Keener), the technical brains behind Winston’s marketing operation. Together they surpass expectations and sneak appreciative nods that feel like mutual thank you’s to powerful women everywhere. Naturally, there’s also a malicious plot behind the scenes that calls on Helen’s detective skills, but I never worried about her ability to make it through; at least, not in the way I worried about Bob at bed time.
Staying true to its roots, Incredibles 2 is a family movie. All of the arguments are recognizable squabbles that I had with my family between homework and saving the city. The biggest differences are the dimension-travelling baby and the honorary aunt who designs fire-retardant onesies. Behind Incredibles 2 are the noble causes of fighting to build a better future and making me laugh so hard I cried. Incredibles 2 is the perfect movie to watch as a family, with your friend-family, or as you snuggle a pet against its will. Even with the superheroes, spy vehicles, billionaire penthouses, magic powers, and press with film cameras, Incredible 2 still feels like a relatable story about patience, frustration, and character growth. It flows seamlessly from the original (minus a voice casting change or two) and is a feel-good 8/10 with a rare kid-friendly Samuel L. Jackson. The neighbour kid in The Incredibles said that he was waiting for “Something amazing, I guess.” Well here it is.