I doubt I've ever said this in a review, so here goes: "Incredibles 2," an intelligently humorous follow-up to the 2004 original, is good fun for the entire family. There, said it.
Just don't let the opportunity for bonding among parents, children and crotchety Aunt Edna, if you deign to charitably invite her, bankrupt the clan. While only an anecdotal bit of accounting, I estimate that the mom two rows in front of me spent at least 21 minutes and about $57.25 going back and forth to the concession stand fetching cheese nachos et al for her flock of five before finally sitting down. Harrumph!
It boggles the mind, but I kind of get it: a phylum of moviegoer who attends the glorious dark of fantasy, adventure, mystery and romance not so much for what's showing on the silver screen, but as a venue for paying crazy prices to chomp junk food as only can be chomped in the theater.
There may be scientific fact behind it, but a box of nonpareils purchased for 89 cents in the supermarket just doesn't taste as extravagantly delicious as one obtained for $3.75 in the lobby by your poor sucker parent. This just may be the baby step that leads to Rolexes and Ferraris.
I was perhaps heading to that mindset, if not the fiscal position, in my pre-teens when, before each Saturday afternoon's outing to the Roosevelt Theater with my best pal, Dave Schenker, Mom would implore me to take a sandwich. Probably a really good one, too, maybe salami and cheese on rye with a pickle. But I railed against it vociferously. I wanted what the kids whose mothers could never make a sandwich that good had: the reckless abandon of financial frivolity, epitomized by Goobers, Juicy Fruits and Malted Milk Balls in a sugary statement of our status.
While it might have been sentimentally ironic, of course, that wasn't me you saw two decades later — a film critic pressed for time, running from the newspaper to the Bijou, his dinner a whole sub sandwich (probably salami and cheese with the works) cached under his coat. Summertime and no coat probably made that gustatory smuggle more difficult, though of course, I wouldn't know. Still, I'm sure there's a statute of limitations specifically exonerating harried movie reviewers who snuck meals into theaters.
Whether or not there's absolution for critics who don't get to the actual review until the fifth paragraph, it behooves to note that the food for thought preamble of this column will now transition to the, uh, meat of the matter. In that liberal vein, we might forgive director-writer Brad Bird's warming up in the bullpen for 14 years before presenting his sequel. While I wasn't exactly waiting, those who were shouldn't be disappointed. The idea of an otherwise normal, happy family who just happen to have potentially world-saving powers is delivered intact.
Twirling a Lazy Susan array of everyday issues affecting the American family, and integrating them into the compelling importance of the adventure Mr. Incredible, his wife, née Elastigirl, and their brood are tossed into, makes for a loving and ennobling paean to said unit. In the style of a jazz band having each musician take a turn at an identifying solo, auteur Bird highlights the special role each of the Incredibles plays, wittily examines the interrelating dynamics, and thereby, in the guise of action-packed superhero story, waxes poetic about family values.
While full of good old, rough-and-tumble, superhero skirmishes, some of them a bit too long for my attention span, it otherwise occurs that this kiddy flick for children of all ages is rather heady stuff. I was put to wondering just how much of "Incredible 2's" cleverly satiric profferings would be grokked by the 8 to 12-year-old crowd. While not out and out political, the savvy observations woven into its surface tale about the guv'mint banning all superheroes from practicing their lifesaving craft, for, er, security reasons, are smartly implied.
Although it remains to be seen whether little Brittney and Tyler will emerge from the movie house all psyched to earn poli-sci and law degrees at Harvard and Georgetown, respectively, before embarking on careers of making the world safe for democracy, it's a nice thought. But anyway, kids know. Their carte blanche minds can spot a conniver a full playground's length away, and only require a bit of honest adult corroboration to affirm their suspicion.
Thus it is heartening that in this mind-boggling era, where even lessons in basic human morality are being censored in some quarters lest they disrupt vested interests, this colorfully entertaining, beautifully animated film stands firm. It'll have none of that. Humorously illustrating the struggle between good and bad, "Incredibles 2" champions the importance of believing in our ability to conquer those evil forces.
"Incredibles 2," rated PG, is a Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures release directed by Brad Bird and stars the voices of Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter and Sarah Vowell. Running time: 118 minutes
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