When The Incredibles hit theaters almost fourteen years ago, George W. Bush had just won re-election, gas was $1.75 per gallon, and the brand new sitcom Arrested Development had just won the Emmy. At the cineplex, we watched as The Underminer erupted up through the streets of Metroville, forcing The Incredibles into action, and all this time later, and nothing has changed…at least at the movie theater.
Incredibles 2 blends seamlessly into the original film, rejoining the story already in progress—making you feel as though you’re at a high school reunion and none of your classmates has aged a day. Sure, the animation technology has improved (if you have doubts, re-watch the original), but under the guidance of Pixar god Brad Bird, who returns as director and screenwriter, Incredibles 2 is like coming home again, and it’s a very good thing.
The sequel opens with Violet’s shy crush Tony Rydinger (voiced by Bird’s son Michael) getting interrogated by agent Rick Dicker (Jonathan Banks). It turns out young Tony saw the Parr clan in costume as they organized to take on The Underminer (John Ratzenberger) in the original film’s finale, and that simply won’t do. Commence the brain erase. More on that later.
Meanwhile the Incredibles have their hands full with The Underminer, and when their attempts to foil his fiendish plan go awry, they find themselves once again as pariahs; the government outlaws supers, forcing them to live out their days as normal humans. Bob (Craig T. Nelson) and Helen (Holly Hunter) have resigned themselves to raising their kids Violet (Sarah Vowell), Dash (Huck Milner) and baby Jack-Jack in 1960s suburbia.
While they’re living out of a hotel (recall the fiery explosion that destroyed their house at the end of the first film) they’re contacted by Winston (Bob Odenkirk) and Evelyn (Catherine Keener) Deavor, tech mogul siblings who want to restore supers to their original glory. Their plan (after moving the Parrs into a swanky new house) is to put Helen—as Elastigirl—front and center at a publicity stunt that involves saving a lot of people, which means, of course, Bob stays home and takes care of the kids.
Aside from opening the door for an endless barrage of hopeless dad gags, this gives the movie a healthy, quality subplot that adults in the audience can quickly get behind. Young kids might be tripping out at the explosions and high-speed chases (which are plentiful and excellent), but mom and dad will be belly-laughing at Bob’s attempts to put Jack-Jack to bed and keep Dash from accidentally toppling the living room couch into the house’s snazzy water feature. (It makes sense when you see it.)
Which brings us back to young Tony. Much of Incredibles 2’s success comes from Bird’s smart and funny script, and the fact even little things like Violet and Tony’s awkward courtship isn’t neglected is what sets Pixar apart. The studio (particularly the top brass, of which Bird is a founding member) has always been known for particularly moving and thoughtful work, and Incredibles 2 is no exception. The script isn’t just some throw-away thing to keep folks entertained while escaping a hot summer day; it’s full of nuanced humor, a good amount of emotion, and, of course, the trademark Pixar easter eggs. And the perfectly retro early-60s feel adds yet another layer that helps make the Incredibles 2 not only one of the most entertaining flicks of the summer but one of the best, too.
You might even call it downright super.