The Incredibles II (2018)

Rating: ****
Review Date: 6/24/18
Director: Brad Bird
Cast: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell, Huck Milner, Samuel L. Jackson, Catherine Keener, Bob Odenkirk, Sophia Bush

Picking up right where "The Incredibles" (2004) left off, the Parr family finds themselves in trouble with the law when they try to stop the Underminer from robbing a bank. They wind up homeless and out of work, until a rich businessman named Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk) proposes a plan to make superheroes legal again. Deavor and his sister Evelyn (Catherine Keener) decide that Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) is their best shot at winning over public opinion, so she starts fighting crime while Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) stays home and takes care of the kids. However, when a villain called Screenslaver shows up to undo all of Winston's efforts, the whole family has to suit up and jump into action in order to save the day.

Unfortunately, the overbearing and aggressively marketed trailer nearly ruins the film, but once you get past that, it's a fun and poignant thrill ride that never lets up on the accelerator. The film is smart, well written, and utterly delightful, with excellent performances from the entire cast (although Holly Hunter's slurred speech is a constant distraction). Its themes of tolerance, diversity, inclusion, equality, parenting, and gender roles are handled in a positive, mature, and meaningful way that's especially relevant right now, but it leaves you with the sinking feeling that only rich people have the power to affect social change. The action scenes are amazing and exciting to watch, and the 60's inspired soundtrack is fantastic. And as you would expect from Pixar, the film looks great and the animation is superb. Definitely a winner all around.

On a side note, the film opens with a lengthy and entirely unnecessary apology from the cast and the director for taking so long to make the film. It was bizarre and made me very uncomfortable. Why did they feel the need to do this? Was I supposed to be mad at them? Did they think I was holding them accountable for something? All I wanted to do was watch the film, not feel bad about it. The film also opened with a profoundly depressing and soul-crushing short called "Bao" about the heartbreak of raising children and dealing with empty nest syndrome. Along with the weird apology, that was possibly the very worst way to set the stage for the film.