Don’t get me wrong, Toy Story 3 is awesome and made me cry but in my hearts of hearts I’m a Pixar Person. That’s very different to a Pixar Sequel Person. I’m desperately greedy for those fresh ideas and I’m far from alone. Sadly, we’re smack bang in Pixar sequel territory with Finding Dory in 2016, Toy Story 4 coming next year and Incredibles 2 this summer. No more after 2019, they say. Sure, sure.
This isn’t just a sequel, either, this is a (gasp) superhero sequel. And still, Incredibles 2 – hold the ‘the’ – is a goddamn fun two hours, and that’s the truth.
Brad Bird, who directed the first one in 2004, gives us a hyper-stylish, hyper-nostalgic, family-friendly caper that’s just so delightful you can’t be mad it exists instead of, I don’t know, an existential meditation on life from the point of view of talking stationery. It’s also the latest in a line of Pixar sequels giving sidekicks like Helen Parr here – or, say, our girl Dory – their own movie. Which is nice.
So while Bob AKA Mr. Incredible is left holding Violet, Dash and superbaby Jack Jack, Elastigirl (voiced again by the cracking Holly Hunter) gets to be such a badass in this movie. Her super stretchiness is an absolute gift to those juicy Pixar brains, who wrap her around trains and split her Elasticycle electric motorbike in two )though nothing quite matches the goofy genius of Elastigirl getting stuck in multiple doors in the original).
Michael Giacchino’s hella jaunty score keeps the action zipping along, but it’s so easy to forget that Pixar movies are family movies, and so for every speeding hovertrain, there’s a loopy parenting gag or three. I have a feeling that actual parents (versus just old millennials) will get a real kick from all the maths jokes in here. The slapstick game back at the Tony Stark-style house is strong, especially when it comes to baby Jack Jack and his seventeen different powers. Inventor, designer and befringed shortie Edna Mode’s one-liners also give me life, lil scene stealer that she is (but – woah there – don’t give her her own movie)!
Pixar homework – the best kind of homework – always involves rewatching or spiralling down a YouTube hole to catch all the Easter Eggs, and there are loads here. This instalment is also stuffed full of movie, TV and comic book references, from the Bond motifs we saw in the first film to riffs on Poltergeist, Spiderman and the Fantastic Four comics. And it’s not just the set pieces and hidden nods that ooze Pixar’s particular meticulousness. Blink and you’ll miss a light thread of micro misogynist moments towards women – most brilliantly when a guy drops a giant pair of ribbon cutting scissors into a woman’s arms and trots off.
No real surprises when it comes to plot – but, hey, in Screen Slaver, Bird gives us a decent baddie (aesthetically if nothing else). Wall-E already did the whole spiel of telling us to look at and talk to one another instead of looking at our screens, bur with more finesse and imagination. Then again, this is a summer movie, a kids’ film, so how much subtlety do you really want or need? There are portal hole fight sequences and ejector seats and family super-friend Frozone icing everything up real good. Look, all you need to know is that there’s a superhero named Reflux.
So Pixar sequels aren’t going anywhere, but if they’re all as charming and playful as this one, maybe that’s okay? We can allow it as long as we get to slurp on those freshly squeezed concepts too (Except Cars. I get that little, little kids like these films and buy the toys, but I hate all the Cars, even the ones I haven’t seen. Let’s just forget Cars exists.) Now, excuse me while I strut down the street to the ‘Here Comes Elastigirl’ theme tune. Man, that thing is catchy.