written and directed by Brad Bird
by Walter Chaw Around the midpoint of Brad Bird's fantastic Incredibles 2, Mr. Incredible (voiced by Craig T. Nelson) catches his son Dash (Huck Milner) on Dash's way to the bus and pointedly tucks his homework in his backpack. Yes. This happens. This happens every day of the school-year with my 11-year-old son, who is bright, funny, and kind, and can't for the life of him remember to put his completed homework in his freaking backpack. There are dozens of moments in Incredibles 2 like this. They're small, throwaway character bits that would've taken hours or days to animate and voice correctly, and the real thrill of a movie like this--of any Pixar or Miyazaki when they're clicking--is little moments like these. In Princess Mononoke, for instance, the prince crouches to take a drink from a stream, but before he does so, he loops his bow over his head and under his arm in a completely natural gesture that would be invisible but for its meaningful utility: this guy has spent a lot of time in the woods, drinking from springs and using his bow. It's biography conveyed almost subliminally in under a second. In Incredibles 2, a breathless Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) calls from a hotel room upon getting "reinstated" as a superhero in this universe where being super is illegal, after which she bursts excitedly into the story of her day while stay-at-home dad Mr. Incredible makes the right noises and turns on the television. The film is wise to cultural/gender issues that can arise when the woman is the breadwinner; to teen girls in daughter Violet's (Sarah Vowell) efforts to get a boy to notice her (I have a teen girl, too; it's spot on); and to an American's unique social programming, which says that anyone can be anything through the power of belief and effort. Not for nothing, the villain of the first film is the manifestation of toxic fandom in the schlubby body of a white guy calling/diagnosing himself "Syndrome."