Incredibles 2

I absolutely loved The Incredibles when it came out. The year was 2004. Animation was laughably bad by today’s standards. Pixar was already a household name with a string of hits, but The Incredibles was the first movie where the entire cast was meant to be human. The animation just wasn’t there for lifelike humans, so they had to take artistic license. They stylized them in the tradition of cartoons, and proceeded to make one of the best superhero movies in history.

It’s been 14 years. The animation is much better, and for the first fifteen minutes of the movie, I felt like something was off. I couldn’t quite place it. Holly Hunter sounds noticeably older, which disjoins her voice from Elastigirl a little bit, but that wasn’t what was bothering me. It was when the movie started introducing some of the brand new characters that it hit me — though the animation has certainly improved, the animators are shackled by the artistic decisions made 14 years ago. While the new characters look lifelike and nuanced, the Parr family feel out of time. It’s not something that detracts from the movie as a whole, but it was the first thing that I noticed, and it required me to let it go to enjoy the rest of the film.

With that little technological hiccup out of the way, I was able to settle into the movie and enjoy it for what it was. It’s a fun ride, admirably continuing the story by picking up right where it left off all those years ago. The plot is predictable, with a tinge of a message that never quite fully forms about our obsession with screens. But then, I suppose it would be awfully hypocritical for a movie to tell us to stop watching screens. I spotted the bad guy pretty much from the second they showed up on screen, primarily because the plot gives you so few suspects.

But it’s not really about the plot or the message. It’s about the fun. It’s about family, at the end of the day, regardless of whether the family has superpowers or not. Since 2004, we’ve become so inundated with superhero fare, that it’s hard for any movie to stand out, and I feel like Incredibles 2 just barely eeks its head above the water to get our attention. There’s a comfort in hanging out with characters you know, in a rarely low stakes game of enjoyment.

The movie was funny, but not as funny as I expected. It has more chuckles than gut-busters (though there is one scene in a restaurant that had the crowd laughing pretty hard). But the movie is — pardon the pun — incredibly endearing. I have a feeling that it will particularly speak more strongly to parents than it does to the childless among us.

All of the characters in the movie delivered as expected. The personalities are basically the same, and executed to perfection. It felt like Frozone had a bigger role this time, which I was totally down with. I enjoyed any time he was on screen. I also really liked the pieces of the movie that didn’t involve superhero action set pieces. The parts that just followed the struggles of the Parr family, largely disconnected from the fact that they have powers, are some of the best parts of the film.

It sounds like I’m a little down on this one, but I’m really not. It’s a very enjoyable movie, lovingly crafted, and beautifully presented. It’s not the groundbreaker that the first movie was, and though I would watch this on TV if I were flipping through the channels, I doubt that I’ll seek it out for a rewatch in the future. It’s just a good, solid movie that provides a clean, family-friendly time.

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