Math homework, first dates, and familial gender roles – the stuff of superhero movies! At least that’s the case with Disney’s beloved and loving clan of enhanced humans, a fivesome that deal with the pains of growth and communication while also fighting crime.
A long-awaited sequel to Brad Bird’s surprise 2004 hit, Incredibles 2 brings back the Parr family, and while dealing with an international ban on superheroes, they also are each dealing with their own relatable, important problems.
It would make sense that after 14 years away, this story, also written and directed by Bird, certainly takes it time revealing a global threat and getting to the big finale, the staple of superhero action films. For much of the film, though, we focus on Helen taking center stage with an exciting new job; Bob learning to tend to a house and the day-to-day parenting issues; Violet’s crush on a classmate; and Dash’s problems with school.
And also, baby Jack-Jack has super powers – lots of them.
So it’s the personal that takes center stage, making the Incredibles 2 a more compelling story – in fact, all the things that go on within the house are more interesting that the actual existential threat and superhero storyline. That deals with a wealthy pair of entrepreneurial siblings on a quest to make the world love superheros again, with Helen crux of a PR campaign. She is sent around the world fighting crime in front of cameras, which includes a pretty thrilling chase of a runaway train.
Of course there has to be something ulterior going on; that’s eventually revealed, but not before meeting a bunch of other maligned superheroes, including one young shy woman who is inspired by Elastigirl. There messages aren’t subtle, but they are ingrained nicely in a film that has a lot of film playing around with Bob as a stay-at-home dad. And really, spending time with the Parr is the best part, especially at the plot eludes a few holes and the finale comes up lacking in consequence and tension.
Still, it’s refreshing and lovely, a welcome palate cleanser to superhero films that are some combination of dark, fast-paced, chaotic, and all business. This is about family, fun, and then some of that saving the world stuff.