The Bock’s Office: ‘Incredibles 2’ a super sequel worth the wait
A surplus of superhero films in the past decade hasn’t necessarily led to a decrease in quality, though certainly less excitement with each release as they become more commonplace. Even so, with a 14-year gap, “The Incredibles 2” demands your attention.
When we last left the Parrs, the family of super-powered talent was in the midst of saving the city from a heavy-duty threat.
And, though they easily pull off the impossible, their efforts have hardly been appreciated by authorities maintaining that heroes destroy as much as the villains they battle, and the increased scrutiny of their exploits means they may have to hang up their costumes for good.
Unsure of where to go or what else they can do, parents Bob and Helen (voices of Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter) have to contend with frustration from kids Violet and Dash (Sarah Vowell, Huckleberry Milner), who were starting to enjoy the idea of being forthcoming about their powers after years of hiding.
But, the folks get a reprieve on behalf of all supers when they are summoned by telecommunications tycoon siblings Winston and Evelyn Deavor (Bob Odenkirk, Catherine Keener), who want to bankroll a campaign to show how necessary superheroes are.
The catch — for the time being, they only want Helen.
And, while she slides back into her Elastigirl alter ego, Bob is in the role of househusband, dealing with homework, teenage dating and an infant who may be more powerful than the entire family.
As a guy who first time around had to contend with being a demigod stuck in an office job, Nelson is good as ever as the man who could conquer an army with one hand but who’s beaten to submission by daunting everyday tasks like fixing breakfast, changing diapers and other fiendish fare.
As for Mrs. Incredible — who you’d assume would want to be known as Elastiwoman — Hunter doesn’t miss a step as the multitasking mom able to stretch into any conceivable form, glad to be back in the business of apprehending evildoers with a mini-vacation to boot.
Vowell returns as the eldest Parr kid, who’s vaulted past the shy, awkward portion of adolescence — more pronounced when you can turn invisible — to an uneasy confidence and sardonic demeanor that can be shattered much easier than her force fields when she’s stood up on her first date.
Good luck handling that one, Dad…
Milner replaces Spencer Fox — like you could tell — as hyper, math class-hating speedster Dash, whereas Jack-Jack sounds just like you remember as a typical baby.
You remember that stage of life when your kid could clone themselves, shoot eye lasers, teleport to another dimension, manifested into a demon that can only be appeased by cookies and already has a nemesis in the form of a rascally raccoon in a backyard brawl for the ages.
And that’s before the terrible twos.
The youngest member of this clan gets a good share of the attention, but he’s hardly the whole show in what’s essentially Pixar’s continuing version of “Fantastic Four” that gets closer to that than Fox ever did.
They even have their own Mole Man in the form of The Underminer (John Ratzenberger), as we finally get closure on that adventure after hanging from a cliff since 2004.
A perfect companion piece to the original film — the only Pixar feature that absolutely needed one — has the same amount of punch, if not more, than most of the superhero stories going today without ever seeming like a copy of the Marvel or DC names.
A villain named Screenslaver (Bill Wise) is a subtle nod to a world increasingly mesmerized by technology — including a masterfully done face-off with Elastigirl that may put epileptics on alert — yet a non-descript retro design refuses to date the moment.
The Parrs’ temporary household looks like a ‘70s bachelor haven and televisions complete with rabbit ears still broadcast episodes of “The Outer Limits” and “Jonny Quest” while at the same time, cellular service is abundant and citizens aren’t quite as flummoxed by strong female do-gooders as they might have been in yesteryear.
“The Incredibles 2” is all you want it to be as the follow-up to a cartoon that somehow did and didn’t get its recognition as an instant classic as the studio turned its attention to cars and robots and more of the same for toys, monsters and fish.
Does this mean we’ll see “Another Bug’s Life” or “Ratatouille: Dessert” sometime soon? Stay tuned, faithful viewers!