2018-07-05 / Around Town

‘The Incredibles 2’ is Incredible

By Loren King

Bob Parr (Mr. Incredible) is left to care for the kids while Helen (Elastigirl) is out saving the world. Bob Parr (Mr. Incredible) is left to care for the kids while Helen (Elastigirl) is out saving the world. The world has waited, incredibly, 14 years for a sequel to writer-director Brad Bird’s inventive animation classic “The Incredibles” (2004). The follow-up isn’t just well worth the wait; the timing is perfect. “The Incredibles 2” provides a joyfully sophisticated escapism and fantasy that both kids and adults will welcome right now.

“The Incredibles 2” reintroduces the Parr family of undercover superheroes. There’s Bob, a.k.a. Mr. Incredible (voiced by Craig T. Nelson); Helen, a.k.a. Elastigirl; and their kids, Violet (Sarah Vowell), Dash (Huckleberry Milner) and baby Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile).

The action begins when they mobilize their assorted superhuman abilities to combat an epic disaster in their retro metropolis. Despite saving the city from a villain named Underminer, Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl are blamed for the destruction and sequestered in a motel. Superheroes are declared illegal, so the Parrs remained holed up, waiting for an undercover assignment.

Loren King is an arts and entertainment writer whose work appears regularly in The Boston Globe and other publications. Loren King is an arts and entertainment writer whose work appears regularly in The Boston Globe and other publications. One of the most enjoyable things about the movie, like its predecessor, is the retro 1960s world Bird creates. From the stylish cars to “Johnny Quest” on TV to Bob struggling to understand “new math,” the time frame enhances both text and subtext. The dangerous world needs superheroes; how nostalgic to revisit a time when people naively believed in them.

The Parrs are plucked from oblivion by Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk), a gazzillionaire who runs a giant telecommunications company with his sardonic sister, Evelyn (Catherine Keener), who designs electronic gadgets. Winston loves superheroes and wants to make them relevant again. He chooses Elastigirl for a big assignment and she relishes the chance to display her powers of stretching, snapping and inflating. While Helen is off fighting crime, Bob becomes Mr. Mom. Some of the movie’s best moments are his domestic travails in Winston’s Brady Bunch-meets- James Bond style lair, complete with floors that open into pools.

Bird may rely a little too much on the antics of super baby Jack-Jack, a character that first appeared in his 2005 short “Jack-Jack Attack.” But he’s a blast. Jack-Jack’s unknown powers come out full-tilt in an encounter with a raccoon while frazzled Bob dozes on the couch. It’s an inspired, rollicking, self-contained sequence reminiscent of a “Tom and Jerry” cartoon.

Likewise, Jack-Jack is the reason the exasperated Bob seeks help from fashion designer Edna Mode (again voiced by Bird himself). Edna, the Edith Head-like character, nearly stole “The Incredibles” and she makes the most of her scenes in this one, too, as she harnesses Jack-Jack’s exploding powers to best use.

Meanwhile, Elastigirl is on a mission to find and destroy a villain named Screenslaver, who is using methods of mind-control in retaliation for society’s addiction to television and its consumerist effects. His victims include an ambassador (Isabella Rossellini), who champions the superhero cause and other superheroes of various skills that Winston has unearthed. The best of this crew is Voyd (Sophia Bush), who idolizes Elastigirl in gushing valley-girl speak. Voyd is refreshing and charismatic enough to deserve her own sequel.

“The Incredibles 2” is all about family, and it’s the family who rallies to save the day when things go awry. There’s typical and requisite action-movie bombast that’s less annoying in such a brilliantly animated film. Still, the best parts of “The Incredibles 2” are the ones that use the characters’ foibles and deep connection to one another for humorous and, ultimately, touching effect, making it a perfect family film.

Preceding the film is a terrific eight-minute short from Pixar called “Bao” that without dialogue tells the story of a Chinese mother and cook who creates a dumpling that comes to life as a little boy. The woman loves him so much that she literally devours him, but a happy ending ensues nonetheless. “Bao” is directed by Domee Shi, whose depiction of Chinese culture and family bonds is rendered with skill. “Bao” is a delightful appetizer for the main course.

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