I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.
Jared McMillan // Film Critic
Sequels… the new life blood of the movie industry. People in today’s climate love to wax nostalgic and nothing helps tap into that like a sequel, at least for beloved movies anyway. It’s guaranteed money in some form or fashion because the audience wants to know a continuation of a story, if their emotional attachment to specific characters will trigger that same response they enjoyed from the first outing.
Usually, sequels are prevalent in three genres: action, horror, and family. If any movie from those three genres have great success, it’s almost guaranteed that a sequel is on the way. Family films might have more success as sequels because it’s always going to have a rewatchability factor, and appeal to a broader audience. The latest sequel to come down the pike is Pixar Studios’ INCREDIBLES 2, which is being released 14 years since the original.
It’s a risky move because interest has had time to wane and might miss out on the key factors to capitalizing on a popular product, namely timing. Also, while Pixar’s sequels have had great returns financially, they have had a lukewarm response critically.
However, THE INCREDIBLES garnered success in 2004 due to their relatability: they were a family, going through typical family problems, and their superpowers reflected their personalities in that family dynamic. Bob (voiced by Craig T. Nelson) felt burdened by responsibility, which countered his super-strength; Helen (Holly Hunter) stretched herself in different directions as the mother/wife; Violet (Sarah Vowell) was defensive and felt invisible; Dash (now voiced by Huck Milner) was a hyperactive son, and Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile) was an infant going through many changes.
Even though it’s been 14 years since the first movie, INCREDIBLES 2 doesn’t miss a beat. Literally. The story starts immediately after the ending, with The Underminer wrecking havoc on the city. Even though the Parr family makes a valiant effort, they cause a lot of damage and must go back into hiding since “Supers” are still illegal. However, Bob, Helen, and their friend Lucius a.k.a. Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) are approached with a marketing campaign of sorts to bring Supers back to the forefront.
This campaign is spearheaded by the billionaire brother-sister team of Winston and Evelyn Deavor (Bob Odenkirk and Catherine Keener). They decide that Helen’s Elastigirl should be the face of the campaign, as she is safer and more relatable. So, Bob now must take care of the kids while Helen goes off to work to run public relations for Supers, and fight a faceless supervillain named Screenslaver. Again, the family dynamic shifting due to changes, with a broader action-fantasy backdrop to help highlight and relate to the audience.
While the formula is there, it is merely a continuation of the original story. Bob and Helen are adjusting to new roles as parents, Violet is still adjusting to her confidence, Dash is still having issues with focus, and Jack-Jack’s growth is manifesting into various powers. It’s a smart move by writer-director Brad Bird, as he identifies that family is a constantly changing thing. While there are connections to help better understand each other, it doesn’t just magically solve the problems of adjustment.
Furthermore, INCREDIBLES 2 adjusts to the main issue of its predecessor in that there are no lulls in the story. There is still great action set pieces that are on par with the first movie, but the adjustments are in between those sequences. The dialogue picks up in moments when the story is focused on Helen, giving way to depth in discussion, be it the villainous metaphor of being dependent on our technology’s screens, or Helen subtly discussing women’s rights.
On the other side of town, the humor picks when Bird focuses on Bob and the kids, especially Jack-Jack. Bob’s fatherly hijinks revolve around Violet’s crush and Dash’s homework, but he really struggles with the baby’s powers going off at random. Any parent will relate to the irregular schedule that Bob goes through, but they will also get Jack-Jack has a developing personality as well, which elevates their relationship with the characters.
Honestly, there is so much more humor and personality when compared to THE INCREDIBLES, that it gives the feel of a different movie. The only down note is that the animation can have a slightly different look to it. Certain scenes still have that Pixar value, while others look like Sony Animation. The audience might not notice it, it’s a minor detail, but it is noticeable. Otherwise, INCREDIBLES 2 lives up to its namesake, being incredibly charismatic and incredibly funny.
Hopefully, Pixar won’t wait another 14 years to realize that this family is worth another sequel.
INCREDIBLES 2 opens nationwide on Friday, June 15.