After the delayed sequel “Finding Dory” debuted to roaring success, Pixar has capitalized on the nostalgia factor once again to smash box office records last week, with the biggest and well-deserved opening weekend of any animated film in history. In the 14 years since its prequel, some of the eager-eyed youngsters that rushed to see the premiere of the original “The Incredibles” have now grown into adulthood. For those returning fans and the new wide-eyed kids, “Incredibles 2” delivers commentary on socio-political issues, light humor and action-packed scene.
The film starts exactly where its predecessor left off — with the Incredibles, a family of five with a wide range of powers, attempting to stop the Underminer’s (John Ratzenberger) robbery. After the Incredibles and Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) stop the Underminer’s machine, police reprimand the Incredibles because using superhero powers is illegal. While police arrest the family, Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk) approaches Frozone with job offers for him, Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) and Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) to work for Devtech, Winston and his sister Evelyn Deavor’s (Catherine Keener) company. Devtech is a successful telecommunications company and Winston is personally invested in dismantling the laws against superheroes. With few financial options, mother of the Incredibles family Elastigirl agrees to join Devtech and fight crime for positive superhero publicity, leaving her husband, Mr. Incredible, to take care of their three kids. Elastigirl fights the antagonist, Screenslaver (Bill Wise) while Mr. Incredible juggles daughter Violet Parr’s (Sarah Vowell) love life, son Dashiell “Dash” Parr’s (Huck Milner) math homework and infant son Jack-Jack Parr’s (Eli Fucile) developing and out-of-control superpowers.
The film’s combination of nostalgia and cultural relevance provides a strong sense of commentary that is synonymous with other Pixar films. Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl relive their golden crime-fighting days, with throwbacks such as the appearance of Mr. Incredible’s old car and Elastigirl’s new “elastibike.” Though some of the viewers may have grown up, the timeless characters are as charming as ever, especially Edna (Brad Bird). The filmmakers amped up the nostalgia factor by bringing back most of the original voice actors and a familiar opening scene. Of the main cast, only Dash is voiced by a different actor than the original film, and the difference isn’t noticeable.
Elastigirl steals the show. Unlike some male-dominated superhero movies from Marvel and DC, which rarely comment on the catastrophic collateral damage to property in the film, Devtech chooses Elastigirl to boost superheroes’ image because of her delicate crime-fighting style and consequently minimal damage record in comparison to Mr. Incredible and Frozone. Through Elastigirl’s role, the film adds commentary on women’s roles in the workforce and family dynamics that can appeal to older audience members and inform the new generation watching.
Perhaps, it is the villain reveal that carries more weight than the slightly forced dialogue on women in the workforce. Although important to address gender equality, the take feels safe at times. The film illustrates the sacrifice it takes for a parent to raise a child (and that it is OK for women to be the breadwinners of the family), but it also challenges the perception that men are the sole powerhouses behind big ideas and power moves in the workplace. Though some have criticized the filmmakers for sexualizing Elastigirl, it’s important to focus on the underlying messages of female empowerment here. Furthermore, the way in which the law forces people with superpowers into hiding pokes at rising nativist sentiments in the United States and give the movie even more traction amid the modern political climate.
Throughout the majority of its 118-minute runtime, the film switches back and forth between Mr. Incredible taking care of the kids and Elastigirl fighting crime — a distinct duality that further highlights Elastigirl’s breadwinner role, and the accompanying commentary. Additionally, in some of the action scenes, the soundtrack creates enough suspense to give just a little more interest and jump factor. However, at the beginning and end of the movie, the family is a united front fighting crime which, combined with the bright colors of the animation and the nostalgic touches, makes the film an overall happy occasion.
A true feel-good movie with strong messages, “Incredibles 2” is a must see for the kids who have grown up, the parents who have been by their sides and the new generation of Pixar and Disney fanatics.