Almost 15 years have come and gone since the original “The Incredibles,” the well-received 2004 Pixar film about a superhero and his equally super suburban family. This money-milking, awkwardly timed sequel feels not only dated but also completely pointless. I did not find this movie enjoyable, I did not find this movie funny, and I did not find this movie entertaining.
This time around we get too few original ideas and more of the same old tired family stereotypes that Disney loves to shove down the indiscriminate throats of its adoring audiences. The superhero family is given the “Mr. Mom” treatment where mommy steps up to save the day while daddy has a difficult time keeping the kids and house in order.
Watch as Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) takes to the streets to fight evildoers while Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) struggles to help Dash (Huck Milner) with his math homework, gives platitude-laden advice to teen daughter Violet (Sarah Vowell) after a cute boy from school stands her up, and juggles babysitting duties as he is incapable of keeping up with infant son Jack-Jack’s (Eli Fucile) new barrage of powers. It’s reference humor 101, and those without children will most likely respond with a big yawn. It makes me wonder why there’s still an audience for these gender role swapping movies. It’s just so 1982.
In an effort to pile it on as thick as possible, there’s an overstated bit about how parents are the real heroes. Chalk this up as a master class in acute pandering to moms and dads. Placing the focus on family dynamics and everyday drama instead of kid-friendly comedy and fun action sequences is a dumb move that’s certain to bore the little ones. It certainly succeeded in boring me.
The stumbling begins with a surprisingly lackluster opening action sequence that’s magnified by Brad Bird‘s jerky direction and indifferent voice performances from the entire cast. The actors as a whole seem to be going through the motions and giving minimum effort. The line delivery is wooden and uninspired all around, even from the supporting players (Bob Odenkirk, Catherine Keener), and the villain named Screenslaver (and the eventual unmasking) is too pedestrian. The Incredibles themselves are a family of unappealing, irritating, paper-thin characters. They’re lame superheroes who don’t really accomplish much. The only saving grace is Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson), but his screen time is too limited to make any impact this time around.
In this “barely a 2 star movie,” the only positive elements come in the form of the delightful animation and the music. The Pixar team brings back a neat-o 1960s retro feel that echoes throughout the visuals and is supported by Michael Giacchino‘s eclectic, heroic score. A couple of moments of inspired direction come late in the game as Elastigirl battles Screenslaver in a hypno-box. It’s a stunning and gorgeous piece of animation, and I wish the entire movie had been as brilliant as this one scene.
The real travesty is that this film is missing a critical key element: fun. It’s lacking in laughs except for Jack-Jack’s cutesy baby antics and irresistible gurgles, and there’s a huge difference between genuine comedy versus polite giggles because “awww, look at the baby, isn’t he sweet?”
Everything about this movie is slow and plodding until the magic finally kicks in during the final third. What a shame that this much-needed boost comes far too late.