Family Movie Review: Incredibles 2 (PG)

Kernel Rating: whole popcorn kernalwhole popcorn kernalwhole popcorn kernalwhole popcorn kernalhalf popcorn kernal (4.5 out of 5)

MPAA Rating: PG       Length: 118 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 8+. “Incredibles 2” tweaks some elements of the first film but is mostly in line with its predecessor, including a variety of action and chase scenes; some scenes of fighting and hand-to-hand combat, including both children and parents; and some scary scenes involving heights and hypnotism, including one fight scene that is very loud, very disorienting, and may be especially frightening for younger kids. A teenage girl experiences her first crush and talks about dating, a couple discusses their marriage, a character’s death is described, and there is some talk about the negative effect of screens.

The 14-year wait for ‘Incredibles 2’ is finally over, and the film delivers timely messages about marriage equality, female empowerment, and technological oversaturation along with engrossing, colorful visuals. It’s another delight from Pixar after the beauty of last winter’s ‘Coco.’

By Roxana Hadadi

TheIncredibles2 ChesapeakeFamilyMovieReview“Politicians don’t understand people who do good simply because it’s right” is one of the first lines in “Incredibles 2,” and it’s really that dialogue that drives home the idea that after 14 years, this sequel is really, truly happening. “Incredibles 2” is another winner from Pixar, arriving in theaters just as Pixar’s last gem, “Coco,” recently hit video streaming services like Netflix.

The first “Incredibles” film in 2004 explored the idea of what would happen to a team of superheroes, bestowed with individual gifts, who tried to fight crime against the wishes of the government, who preferred they exist in secret. “Incredibles 2” picks up that idea and broadens it, expanding questions about government interference and adding in concerns about our undeniable reliable on screens and modern technology and how responsibilities are shared in a marriage.

The sequel from filmmaker Brad Bird, who also created the first “Incredibles,” provides all of its individual characters with respect, providing due attention to all of their problems, no matter how seemingly small. There are Dash’s (voiced by Huck Milner) frustrations with his math homework and his older sister Violet’s (Sarah Vowell) complicated feelings about her first crush, and although those may seem like lesser problems than their parents’ crime-fighting, those issues matter to the kids in ways that feel all-consuming. “Incredibles 2” understands how kids think and act, and young viewers will recognize and appreciate that, too.

Beginning only a few months after the events of “Incredibles,” this sequel focuses on how the Parr family deals with the continued restrictions placed on superheroes in light of an offer from the telecommunications company DevTech. “Help me make all supers legal again!” says DevTech CEO Winston Deavor (voiced by Bob Odenkirk, of "The Post"), who reaches out to Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible (voiced by Craig T. Nelson, of "Soul Surfer") and Helen Parr/Elastigirl (voiced by Holly Hunter, of "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice") with an opportunity: What if they worked with DevTech to prove to the government and their fellow citizens that superheroes were not only necessary, but beneficial?

The Parrs are intrigued by the idea, but when they learn that DevTech is only interested in working with Elastigirl, that opens up questions about their marriage. In the first “Incredibles,” Bob worked a job he didn’t like, while now, Helen is being offered a job she will enjoy. How will they handle that balance? “What am I, a substitute parent?” Bob wonders when he sees how the kids defer to Helen instead of him; when Helen calls from a job to express how much she misses her husband and children, she also admits that she loves the opportunity to fight crime again. The many facets of Bob’s and Helen’s personalities as parents and as spouses are explored in “Incredibles 2,” and for moms and dads who bring their children to the theater, this will all resonate.

Aside from the nuanced consideration of parenting, “Incredibles 2” also delivers unbelievably engrossing visuals (including a fantastic scene where Elastigirl chases a runway train on her motorbike, driving up buildings, jumping from rooftop to rooftop, and transforming her body into various shapes to keep up with the speeding vehicle) and lots of fun with the baby Jack-Jack, whose own powers begin manifesting in unexpected ways. Plus, the villain Screenslaver’s points about our reliance on telephones, televisions, computers, and other screens will be good discussion starters between parents and their children after the film.

For some young viewers, their only experience with “Incredibles” will have been at home because the first film came out more than a decade ago, and they are in for a treat here—the animation is amazing, the voice performances are pitch-perfect, and if you prefer it, the IMAX format is particularly beautiful. The exceptionalness of “Incredibles 2” makes you forget how long those 14 years felt.

Interested in a previously released film? Read our reviews of films already showing in your local theater.