“Parenting, when done right, is a heroic act,” declares the snappy and stylish costume designer Edna “E” Mode to a weary and disheveled Mr. Incredible.
It’s a Greek chorus moment for the movie, where Pixar has combined a thrilling superhero adventure with a surprisingly gritty family drama. It has shades of morality play and a deep understanding of conflict, both personal and political.
The exhausted Bob Parr is at his wits end with his baby, the toddler Jack-Jack when he finally meets up with the grizzled and sharp-tongued Mode (voiced by director Brad Bird), and he just really needs help with this skill called fathering. Meanwhile, Mode, possessed of impeccable design sense and creative vision, longs for the return of supers so she can put her skills to good use. An amazing ability of this movie is marrying those kinds of personal motivation with larger meta questions: what is it really like to raise a family of super-powered individuals, tweens and teens with all their emotiveness and brash desires? It’s a legit action thriller that also manages to be very intimate.
We last saw The Parr Family nearly a decade and a half ago in the first Incredibles when the villain Syndrome was foiled, his jet exploding into a fiery ball that destroyed the Parr’s home. Since that time, superhero vigilantism has been declared illegal and forced The Incredibles and their friends, like the ice-powered Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson), into the underground.
Not everybody hates superheroes and there’s hope to change the legislation when filthy rich communications siblings Winston (Bob Odenkirk) and Evelyn Deavor (Catherine Keener) enter the picture. Surprise! They want to make Elastigirl—and not Mr. Incredible—the face of their new campaign because her villain-fighting escapades cause less property damage.
Holly Hunter and Craig T. Nelson are superb in bringing to life Helen and Bob Parr, the put-upon supers who also happen to be parents. Despite the ban on supers, Mr. Incredible’s super strength and Elastigirl’s stretchy flexibility are still being put to occasional use. But this time, whenever they go out, they’re joined by their kids Violet, Dash, and baby Jack-Jack, which makes for some hilarious field dynamics.
Their teenage daughter Violet, albeit socially awkward and skilled with sarcasm, is also undergoing the awkward, embarrassing, and revelatory stages of adolescence—allwhile secretly mastering her powers of invisibility and force fields. And, to her dismay, she’s also discovering boys.
Dashiell “Dash” Parr is like any reckless, fun-loving, and energetic 10-year-old boy with a sports streak. He’s still stuck at being all spectacular with his powers and knows that fighting the bad guys is the way to best show that. His take on this limiting superpowers law is that it’s a “bummer.”
Lastly, baby Jack-Jack’s super powers are emerging and, from the range and strength of his abilities, he just might be the most powerful Parr in this household. We’d love to tell you a few but the enjoyment of seeing them all is half the fun of this movie.
There’s never a dull moment here, as director Brad Bird masterfully employs nearly every trick to put us in the shoes of these supers, whether it’s chasing someone down on a high-tech motorbike, battling other supers in a close combat situation, or simply trying to stop the pesky neighborhood raccoon who’s been stealing the garbage. When you find out who the villain is, it’s an even more apt moment. But not before we’re taken on a deft rollercoaster of feints, dead ends, and false leads. Watch out for those Die Hard, Mission Impossible, and John Woo homages.
The quiet moments are reserved for insight about family and the deep bond between couples, siblings, and parents and children. Even the brother and sister fights feel real. The drama is spot on touching and may hit home for many people, as evidenced by our guest trying to hide his sniffling, teary-eyed self beside us in the theater. Hey, I’m not crying, you’re crying!
Incredibles 2 is a visually stunning blowout for both kids and adults. It has adept storytelling, flamboyant characterization, and three-dimensional plot setups and reveals that put more than half of the current cookie cutter superhero movies to shame and imbue them with a desire to turn as invisible as the teenage Violet Parr.
Do yourself and your kids a favor by bringing them to a 3D theater to witness how the years of improvements in cinema technology have benefitted this movie with eye-candy awesomeness. Super hero sets don’t come much better than this and Infinity War can chew on Jack-Jack’s diapers.
And don’t skip the opening short film Bao either.
The Incredibles 2 is now showing in Metro Manila cinemas