- Emma Simmonds
- 22 June 2018
EIFF 2018: Sporadically super animated sequel that reunites us with the titular family
'Leave the saving of the world to the men? I don't think so!' remarks Helen Parr (Holly Hunter) in a film that sees her take one of her long stretchy strides out from her husband's shadow and return to single-handed heroics. The belated sequel to 2004's double Oscar-winning animation finds returning writer-director Brad Bird getting to grips with female empowerment, albeit in a way that's a touch old-fashioned.
Although the original film focused on a family of superheroes, it was primarily concerned with the trials of the middle-aged patriarch as Bob Parr / Mr Incredible (Craig T Nelson) was forced back into the world of spirit-sapping employment when his vigilante actions were outlawed.
Bob undergoes a different kind of crisis this time round. 'Supers' are still forbidden but, with the help of tycoon Winston Deavor (the unmistakable tones of Bob Odenkirk) and his tech-savvy sister Evelyn (voiced by Catherine Keener but looking like Angelina Jolie in Hackers), the Parrs hope to overturn that ruling. Problem is, their backers only want Helen, aka Elastigirl, who has been deemed less destructive and thus a better fit for tackling supers' perception problem. While Bob sees to the kids, and quickly becomes deranged by the competing pressures of domesticity, Helen thrives in the spotlight, as she tangles with mysterious antagonist the Screenslaver.
Men in Black gets a nod, with the presence of Tommy Lee Jones-alike agent Rick Dicker (Jonathan Banks, joining his Better Call Saul co-star Odenkirk in the cast), and there's a whole heap of Batman here. Bird once again steals the film, voicing the terrifically entertaining, flamboyantly rude fashion designer Edna Mode, who's coerced into assisting with childcare when baby Jack-Jack's burgeoning superpowers prove too much to cope with.
There's lots to cheer here: the aforementioned antics of Jack-Jack in particular. But if the guilty struggle of mothers returning to work is admittedly as relevant as ever, the 'daddy day-care' storyline still feels dated; the family have more in common with the Jetsons or Flintstones than modern broods. Like its live-action superhero movie equivalents, the huge set-pieces can grow wearing and the villain's motivation is a little redundant. Regardless, the cannily appointed voice cast and silky, almost sculpted visuals ensure that this follow-up is still somewhat super.
Screening as part of the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2018. General release from Fri 13 Jul.