After his highly successful feature film "The Incredibles" picked up the Oscar for best animated film in 2004, director/writer Brad Bird ("Iron Giant") said he would make a sequel once he had the right idea. It's been 14 years, and Bird finally has hatched an idea that resulted in the follow-up to the tale of the superhero family.
Bird should have spent a little less time pondering what to do with the Parr family. Because while "Incredibles 2" is a fun family film, the multiple storylines Bird has woven through the production often get tangled. A little more simplicity would have lifted "Incredibles 2" from good to the incredible status of the first film.
The central story that should have been the focus picks up immediately after the end of the first movie. Those with superpowers are living in a world where they are forbidden by law to use their skills. But that hasn't stopped the mom and dad team of Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) and Elastigirl (Holly Hunter), plus their children Violet (Sarah Vowell) and Dash (Huck Milner) from fighting crime. The only thing slowing them down is baby Jack-Jack, who needs constant attention.
Things might be changing, as the family is approached by a fast-talking Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk) who - with the help of his tech-minded sister, Evelyn (Catherine Keener) - wants to change the way people look at superheroes. His plan is a well-planned publicity campaign that will feature Elastigirl.
How Elastigirl handles the pressure of being in the spotlight and the strain her being away puts on the family are strong enough building blocks to carry the movie. But the central strength of the family dynamic gets pushed down by less interesting plot threads.
One of the advantages of the 14-year gap is technology has dramatically advanced. "Incredibles 2" has a visual richness that makes each frame explode with color, texture and design. It is a beautifully shot production, down to the tiniest hair on a character's head.
Fans of "The Incredibles" should plan on showing up late at the theater. The short that accompanies the feature film, "Bao," is by far the biggest miscue in the history of Pixar. The story of a Chinese-Canadian woman who raises a dumpling when it comes to life features uninspired animation, a script that is so muddled it takes a team of experts to explain what's happening and an event that is so disturbing, young children should not be allowed to see it.