Review – This One’s Incredible, Too! (“The Incredibles 2”)

Normally, I poo-poo sequels but this time, I welcomed it with open arms. 2004’s The Incredibles is, in my opinion, one of THE finest Pixar movies ever made, but can lightning strike twice? So 14 years in real time may have passed, but in the world of The Incredibles, it’s only been about 5 minutes.

If you remember the end of part one, the family Parr had just enjoyed a day at Dash’s school track event when (HORRORS!) the evil villain, The Underminer (Pixar’s favorite son, John Ratzenberger-voiced), reared his ugly head–and gigantic spiral death machine–from the ground. The Parr’s, being the superheroes that they are, spring into action to save the city… along with their buddy, Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson), forgetting the fact that all supers have been outlawed.

And even though they DO manage to keep a runaway death machine from killing thousands, the Parr’s escape jail time, due to their ‘keeper’ and long-time friend, Rick Dicker (Jonathan Banks). Thankfully, a telecommunications mogul and superhero fanboy named Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk) has an idea. Along with his genius inventor sister, Evelyn (Catherine Keener), Winston wants to usher in a new age of supers, starting with Elastigirl/Helen Parr (Holly Hunter), since she fits his ‘new image model’. Naturally, husband Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) is both jealous and deflated at hearing this, but rolls with the new program.

So, while wifey is off fighting crime and becoming a huge celebrity all over again, Bob is adjusting to being a stay-at-home dad and dealing with baby Jack-Jack’s new chaotic and completely unpredictable powers. Things go well for Helen until a new arch-villain arrives… the Screenslaver! With the power of hypnosis, he can make anyone to do anything, leaving Helen to figure out who he really is and how to defeat him. Meanwhile, Winston is gathering other former hidden supers together (Void, Helectrix, Reflux, the Krushauer, etc) and the Ambassador (Isabella Rossellini) to bring all the supers back for good! Hey, what could possibly go wrong? Plenty!

There’s action galore mixed with a sinister detective story that, unfortunately, is telegraphed so early on when the bad guy is finally revealed, it’s anti-climatic. But the real joy of this movie isn’t so much story A, but story B: Bob’s adventures with his kids. His teenage daughter, Violet (Sarah Vowell) is having boy problems, son Dash (Huck Milner) is more ADD than ever, and baby Jack-Jack’s powers are not only random, but lethal at times!

Written & directed by Brad Bird, the man knows what we like and delivers on all levels, giving us terrific action sequences, a great story that isn’t dumb-downed for the kiddies, and some pretty solid laughs with his alter-ego voice-over, the outrageous fashion designer, Edna Mode. This one’s a bit long in the tooth for an animated feature film, clocking in at almost 2hrs, and it’s not without it’s plot holes, some jarring transitions, and the occasional odd pieces of dialogue. Just like it’s predecessor, the story has got some heavy adult-oriented stuff that will most likely fly over kids heads, but for us grown-ups, it’s a welcome relief after dreadful films like Sherlock Gnomes and Batman Ninja.

**Also playing before the movie is Pixar’s short, Bao, a stylized animated feature about a Chinese mother who gets an unexpected surprise when a dumpling she makes comes alive! No dialogue, but a warm, humorous, and moving little tale that invokes the ’empty nest syndrome’ in all parents.     

Mr. Mom (1983)
A brand new stay-at-home-dad that’s a former bread winner and ‘superhero’ to his family? Michael Keaton, six years before he donned the iconic Batman mask, he took up the mantle of caring for his three kids while his wife goes back to work; with a screenplay by the legendary John Hughes (Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off).
Times are tough in the 1980’s recession, and car maker Jack Butler (Keaton) over at the Ford Motor Co. is feeling the pinch, along with his pals, Larry & Stan (Christopher Lloyd & Tom Leopold). One day it happens… layoffs come and Jack is suddenly unemployed, but Jack’s resourceful wife, Caroline (Teri Garr), having a college degree and experience in advertising, re-enters the workforce, leaving Jack to deal with the kids at home. Naturally, chaos ensues as Jack knows nothing about diaper changing, running errands, shopping in supermarkets, cleaning the house, washing clothes, and minding his own children. He even gets hit on by a flirtatious neighbor (Ann Jillian).
Meanwhile, Caroline is back at work and getting the hang of things with her new boss, Ron Richardson (Martin Mull), who seems a little TOO friendly to her. After she voices her “real housewife” opinion at a board meeting involving the important Schooner Tuna account, she wins over the heart of the client with her charm and honesty. But while Caroline is being praised for her work (and also being seduced by her lecherous boss), Jack is being thrown under the bus at work by a shifty co-worker (Jeffrey Tambor), just as Ford is decided to re-hire Jack back.
In a third act melt-down, Jack goes ballistic on Ford, Caroline quits over Ron’s sexual advances, but everything ends up fine and dandy because this is a John Hughes film, and you can’t have a John Hughes film without one of those, right? Right! Given that director Stan Dragoti’s only did five movies ever, this one is his best. Of course, how bad could it be with a cast and a script like this? Dragoti lets Keaton (his first leading role, BTW) have fun here and you can see that really enjoying the part. Although screenwriter Hughes was supposed to direct this movie, he opted out (he hated shooting in Hollywood).
Although written like a sitcom (which it would later go on to be), the pacing and structure of the film is simple and funny, kept in check by a marvelous cast that doesn’t disappoint. Although the critics weren’t too kind, the movie did make a killing at the box office and (thank God!) didn’t have any sequels. In fact, Mr. Mom was SO successful that Universal Pictures gave Hughes a three-picture deal after this movie. So, what did he make? Sixteen Candles, Breakfast Club, and Weird Science. And I don’t have to tell you how THOSE turned out!       

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