Di: Before we dive into this much-anticipated (by me, anyway) sequel, I think it’s impossible not to give a brief nod to something that’s become a bit of a Pixar tradition: the animated pre-show short film.
Jaz: Ooh, yes! It’s called Bao, like the Chinese pork buns, and it’s probably one of my favourite shorts ever, actually.
Saskia: Bao follows the story of a Chinese mother suffering from empty-nest-syndrome and a steamed bun that suddenly comes to life! Headed up by the first female animated short director in Pixar’s history, it stands out among the rest for its unique take on a common phenomenon and thoughtful insight into immigrant family culture. For me Bao was the highlight of my Incredibles 2 experience. It made me cry (which I hate to do in public DAMNIT) and it’s really stuck with me!
Di: So Bao aside, back to Incredibles 2. To be honest, it’s going to be hard to separate it from the success of the original. I remember the Underminer popping out from the ground, the family donning their masks before the credit roll and being so pumped. I mean, my husband and I were quoting that thing for years (and still do). How do you guys think Incredibles 2 compares?
Saskia: I feel certain that I did at one point witness the first movie, although I have no actual memories of it. This either means that it was entirely unmemorable (calm down Jaz) OR maybe I’m creating false memories and actually haven’t seen it. Incredibles 2 throws you straight into the action with the family on a mission to stop The Underminer from stealing a whole lot of money from a bank. It doesn’t give many opportunities for new viewers of the franchise to get to know the characters or understand the relationship dynamics between the family members and other characters. Therefore it was hard to get invested – but still a whole lot of fun!
Jaz: I think any new film would find it hard to beat fourteen years of quoting and appreciating, but even so, Incredibles 2 was a pretty fun ride! There were many laughs, cute moments, and a lot of cheeky winks to the first film. I’d agree that if you haven’t seen the first movie you might get a bit lost as to who the heck is this character and and why do we trust them. Fortunately, The Incredibles is one of the most memorable Pixar films out there (just saying, if actual footage from the first movie doesn’t jog your memory, perhaps you haven’t seen it?), so there’s not much need for a recap if you’ve seen it plenty of times over the past decade (but a rewatch won’t hurt you either!). Maybe it’s a nostalgia thing, but I still think the first movie was better. They introduced a whole lot of new heroes in this one, but we learned nothing about their normal lives. The Incredibles was all about a family balancing their super lives with their normal lives. That’s what made it so good. And relatable. It’s hard to relate to someone when all you know about them is that they can vomit up magma. To be honest, I was more emotionally attached to the pork bun in Bao than anyone in Incredibles 2.
Di: Yeah, I know what you mean. The appeal of The Incredibles for me was seeing a Super family trying so hard to blend into normal life. I think there was actually quite a bit of that in this movie, but, maybe because they were also introducing so many other Super characters, it felt like the family theme didn’t really have a chance to develop as much I would have liked. I have to say though I was quite pleased to see Elastigirl fronting so much of the action. She’s got such great “mum vibes” so I always get a kick out of her being so badass as well.
Saskia: The messages were a little all over the place for me. Mr Incredible struggles hugely with the concept that his wife has been asked to represent ‘Supers’ instead of him. He never really learns how to genuinely celebrate his wife’s achievements or grows as a character in this area, which seems like a missed opportunity. On the flipside of this – while his wife, Elastigirl, is out fighting crime and he’s staying home with the kids, Mr Incredible feels the need to hide anything that’s gone wrong at home from her as she’ll instantly assume that everything has gone wrong and that she needs to come home straight away. The intention may have been to challenge some social norms, but for me, Incredibles 2 just ended up reinforcing some unnecessary stereotypes. In saying that, there were some genuinely beautiful resolutions to some familiar family conflicts and I think most people will identify with and hopefully even gain insight from them!
Di: Okay, so I have to ask. With so many new characters being introduced, who was your favourite character?
Saskia: I don’t think I really had a favourite character, as it was hard to connect with any of them amongst all the action. I really enjoyed Bob Odenkirk as Winston Deavor – the super rich ‘Supers enthusiast’ who is trying to restore the legal status of the heroes. He managed to be extremely pleasant and charming without being smarmy. My favourite moment in the whole movie is thanks to Violet. It happens in a diner and that’s all I will say (it’s so awesome because of how unexpected it is). So maybe she’s my favourite character. She’s pretty consistently funny and a perfect embodiment of teenage angst. There are a lot of interesting characters thrown into Incredibles 2, but not enough screen time to go around for any meaningful character development to be formed. This does leave me open to and intrigued at the possibility of an Incredibles 3, because there are definitely several characters I wish the movie had given more screen time to! The most rewarding and raw interaction and development is probably between Mr Incredible and his daughter, Violet. Having a close relationship with my Dad, I’ve always thought that there’s something very special about the connection between dads and daughters and Incredibles 2 covers this beautifully well in a couple of scenes.
Di: It’s a hard choice for me too. I wish we got to know some of the new Supers better but they just didn’t have enough air time. I did love Violet too but it may be cheating picking the same character as Saskia. So…maybe Dash. He’s the annoying little brother who just can’t keep out of trouble and the movie captures that really well. I look at him and I think of a hundred other little boys who would have done the same thing he just did. I also did snort out loud a couple of times thanks to Dash.
Jaz: I liked Voyd, one of the new heroes. She had cool powers and was beautifully socially awkward, but I’m hesitant to say she was my favourite character. She seemed cool but, as we talked about earlier, I just don’t know anything about her. Jack-Jack on the other hand, boy did we get to know a bit more about him! I don’t want to spoil anything, but props to Bob Parr for surviving the discovery of all his powers!
Di: Characters aside, would you guys bring kids to see the movie? I know I was a bit concerned that the deeper themes would just fly over their heads as it does get political sometimes. Having said this though, the cinema was full of kids and I don’t remember any crying or restlessness. The kid beside me got up once to go the bathroom and then happily sat through the rest of it. So maybe I’m underestimating kids’ attention spans.
Saskia: I was a little concerned when a warning came up before the movie started, regarding flashing lights in the movie triggering seizures. The scenes it was referring to were very intense on the flashing light scale, and an entirely unnecessary risk to include in a kids movie.
Jaz: Oh yeah! I found myself looking away or blocking the screen with my hand from time to time. Those flashing lights were pretty hardcore. Especially on the big screen. An impressive amount of work must have been put into the animating of that, though.
Di: The animation is, as always, top notch! I remember getting a couple close-ups of the Incredibles’ costumes and thinking, “Wow, I can see the bumpy texture of the weave.” Let’s wrap this up. Any final thoughts for our lovely readers?
Saskia: It’s a kids movie. You can see the twist and the ending coming a mile off. The ride to get there is still super fun. I feel like I’ve been pretty negative so far, but I really did enjoy myself. There were some excellent laughs, some tense moments and I was thoroughly entertained throughout.
Jaz: Yeah, I definitely enjoyed myself too. There were plenty of great action scenes and chases and fights. Quite a few laughs every scene. And there were some very sweet family moments between Bob and the kids that let out a few “aww”s from me. There wasn’t a moment where I was bored.
Di: My husband, the other Incredibles fan, asked if I would go see it again with him. I said I would. I loved seeing the family coping with all the other mundane problems that plague normal humans. Hormones, homework…more of that please, Pixar! If you go, just know that the first Incredibles sets a really high bar of expectation, lower it a couple notches, and then go have fun!