It’s been over a decade since Pixar’s The Incredibles charmed and entertained audiences, with its whirlwind of snappy graphics, fast-paced story,  and delightful characters, rendering it a studio favorite to many.  Now, after much waiting, comes Incredibles 2.  Clearly it can’t match the quality of the first, right? Sequels almost never do.  Almost.  Prepare to be won over once again, and decidedly!  I haven’t seen the original movie in years, but I would wager this one is even better than the first.

The story doesn’t just hum along, it carries the audience like a convertible would a pup, long sequestered indoors. The action begins seconds after the opening credits, as does the familiar, and truly exceptional score by Michael Giacchino.  He may have won his Oscar for Up, but I listen his retro, spy flick inspired The Incredibles score far more often. Superheroes are still outlawed, and the Parrs are eking out an existence living in motels and keeping their heads down.  Fan and tech company billionaire Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk) and his tres-hip inventor sister Evelyn (Catherine Keener) believe if only Helen Parr, or Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) tackles troubles out in the world, she might turn public opinion, and the political tide to the supers’ favor, and make them legal again.  In the spirit of family support and being a good partner, Bob Parr, or Mr. Incredible, is all for her being the lead hero of the family.  He is going to be the stay-at-home Dad, and be available to their super kids, Violet (Sarah Vowell), Dash (Huck Milner) and Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile), who starts exhibiting a wide, and potentially destructive set of powers.

Of course Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) is there as Bob’s bestie, to help either save the day or save Bob from himself, as he attempts to be everything the kids need, without ever having known what that entails. There’s a great collection of secondary characters, mostly other supers looking to be validated by Elastigirl, since she is becoming increasingly celebrated for her victories in the field.  Sophia Bush as Voyd is a standout. She geeks out when meeting Elastigirl, as if she were Cher, Madonna, or a member of the cast of Game of Thrones.  The sequel can’t be all it can be without an appearance by Edna Mode (writer/director Brad Bird), who is even funnier and more memorable, if that’s possible, and how can we do anything but love an animated feature that offers Isabella Rossellini, brilliantly cast as an Ambassador?

It is the characters, and how they interact, that is one of the best qualities of Incredibles 2.  The way the family struggles, works to figure each other out, all with love, is so endearing. Elastigirl shares chats with Evelyn about women’s empowerment, yet stands with loyalty as part of her family team, and the conversations are spot-on.  The sweetness between Helen and Bob Parr, and the way Bob tries so earnestly to do what needs to be done at home, determined to give the kids what they need, will win every person in a long-term relationship or with a family completely over.  Notice the character design choice of making Bob’s costumes become more and more neutral, the more tired he gets. He’s so in it to win it, though, it makes the film a perfect one for Father’s Day viewing.

Another winning quality is how really funny the film is. There are many laugh-out-loud moments, especially that relate to Jack-jack, and his new powers.  Kids his age are hard enough to handle, without them being able to split into multiples or turn into demons. It’s also quite poignant in parts.  Pixar has always been known to be able operate on many layers at once.  The adults experience the film with as much connection as any child would, and as kids grow, they’ll see more and more elements that mirror some of life’s struggles, but in a gentle way.  Writer/director Brad Bird deserves all the credit for that.  He knows how to build a story, and weave characters with real feelings and struggles into whip-fast action that keeps his audience 100% invested in every moment that happens onscreen.

If you’re someone who rarely sees animated features, but loves James Bond or action movies with actual plot, this is one that may be worth your time.  For those who are already fans of The Incredibles, you’re in for a real treat with Incredibles 2.

5 out of 5 stars