Pixar returned to the box office (and nearly broke it) this past weekend, bringing back your favorite superhero family in the process. The Parrs are here once again, and The Ringer staff is here to talk Incredibles 2—from baby Jack-Jack’s many superpowers to Pixar’s first foray into the world of superhero sequel moneymakers.
1. What is your tweet-length review of Incredibles 2?
Miles Surrey: The Incredibles is my no. 1 Pixar movie, so I had very high expectations for the sequel. I’m so glad it met them!
Kate Halliwell: Stepping back into the world of The Incredibles was an absolute joy, one that could not even be spoiled by the loud, boisterous children sitting behind me. I waited far too long for this to let a 6-year-old named Adelaide ruin my moment.
Richie Bozek: Incredibles 2 might be the only movie in recent memory where I walked out of the theater and was instantly ready to spend another $16.50 to watch it again.
Jonathan Tjarks: Pixar is now in the summer blockbuster business: Incredibles 2 is a derivative sequel whose characters and ideas are overshadowed by the action and special effects.
Shea Serrano: It’s a fun movie.
Alison Herman: This time, the Randian ideologue is the villain!
2. What was the best moment of the movie?
Tjarks: I’m going to cheat and say the animated short Bao at the beginning. The movie was OK, but I’ll forget about it in like two weeks. The short will stick with me for much longer. As the only son of a Filipino mother, that was my life on the screen!
Serrano: The baby was, no question, the best part of Incredibles 2. Probably the best baby moment was when Mr. Incredible was reading him a book and Mr. Incredible started to doze off and the baby gave him a quick little tap to wake him up. I laughed a lot.
Herman: “He is bright. I am stimulating. We deserve each other.”
Halliwell: Edna’s return filled me with immense joy, and I look forward to quoting all of her lines from this movie until the next one comes out 14 years from now.
Bozek: [thinks intently for five minutes] [opens mouth about to answer] [closes mouth and thinks intently for another five minutes] Jack-Jack’s fight with the raccoon.
Surrey: Watching Jack-Jack’s chaotic backyard brawl with the raccoon was the hardest I’ve laughed in a theater this year. It’s been a rough month for raccoons.
3. What was your least favorite part of the film?
Surrey: Frozone’s wife and her contempt for his superhero gallivanting is iconic; the least she could get is some actual screen time in the sequel!
Halliwell: I’m immediately suspicious of every woman with a perfectly tousled pixie cut, which is to say that the villain was far too predictable.
Tjarks: I thought the bad guy wasn’t particularly compelling. They were counting on the twist to pay off, and it didn’t really work that well.
Serrano: It was long as fuck. Also, I knew when they got to the part where [REDACTED] explains [REDACTED] that people were going to try to get very serious and philosophical about it, which is usually annoying.
Herman: The perfunctoriness of it all. I look to Pixar for quality control and ingenuity, which it’s clearly still got in spades—just look at Coco!—but this felt like … a sequel. A pretty good one, yes, but one I can’t help but react to with a bemused shrug, not wide-eyed wonder.
Bozek: It was so deflating that Elastigirl, Mr. Incredible, and Frozone were all under control of the Screenslaver for the convention on the ship. But also, THE UNDERMINER IS STILL OUT THERE, PEOPLE.
4. Who was Incredibles 2’s MVP?
Bozek: Another tough question, but ultimately, I think it has to go to Mr. Incredible for his ability to adapt and improve in his new role as a stay-at-home dad throughout the film. And then he still delivered when his powers were needed the most to prevent a disaster at the end of the movie.
Serrano: The baby, for sure.
Herman: The future crime-fighting partnership of Jack-Jack and Edna Mode.
Tjarks: Aunt Edna is consistently the funniest part of these movies.
Surrey: Brad Bird. Tomorrowland notwithstanding, his movies are straight fire—he’s one of the few directors who can capably operate at a propulsive Spielberg-esque pace and stage fun, coherent action sequences. And don’t forget: He was responsible for The Iron Giant, my large adult son.
5. Finish this sentence: “The Screenslaver was …”
Bozek: A good villain.
Halliwell: An all-time great supervillain name.
Serrano: A character I stopped thinking about as soon as I left the theater.
Tjarks: Kind of boring. She did have some good takes, though.
Herman: A missed opportunity. The moment I heard the villain’s complaints about mindless, distracting entertainment coupled with her dislike of superheroes, I thought we were in for a metacritique of comic book IP’s numbing omnipresence in our current cultural landscape and its chilling effect on the effervescent creativity epitomized by the best Pixar movies. Instead, we get a half-baked jumble of a bootstraps spiel, like a children’s book written by a Paul Ryan staffer. The thing is, I’d actually be interested in a fourth-wall-busting franchise commentary without the snark of a Deadpool—it would have given this sequel a central idea as compelling as “If everyone’s special, no one is,” which it conspicuously lacks.
Surrey: [extreme The Federalist voice] The Media Critique We Need in These Trying Times.
6. How would you rate Mr. Incredible’s performance as a stay-at-home dad?
Herman: Did this man seriously not contribute to childcare when everyone was unemployed and living in a motel?
Tjarks: He did about as well as could be expected, I suppose. He had pretty much the same character arc as in the first one, where he learns to be less selfish.
Halliwell: He prevented any emergency room trips, which is the mark of a good dad performance. (My dislocated elbow from childhood can speak to this personally.)
Bozek: There’s no doubt it started out rough, but he put in the late hours to learn Dash’s homework, try to console Violet, and contain Jack-Jack’s powers (with the help of Edna). He may not have been the perfect stay-at-home dad, but he got the job done.
Serrano: Really, for any new stay-at-home parent, the only objective is for you to not let any of your children accidentally die. And so in that respect, he was successful.
Surrey: … How’s the insurance on that house?
7. Please share your thoughts and feelings about Jack-Jack.
Bozek: I love Jack-Jack more than I love myself.
Serrano: Again: He was the best part of the movie. He was very funny and sweet and charming. The raccoon fight was a wonderful little moment.
Tjarks: Eh, he’s a bit much.
Herman: Would adopt, up to and including the demon version.
Surrey: Jack-Jack’s so adorable, and he’s rightfully going to be many people’s favorite part of this movie. For the love of god though, Pixar, don’t go full Minions and give him a spin-off.
8. The first Incredibles movie came out four years before Iron Man and the MCU. How do you feel about The Incredibles now that superheroes are all over the place?
Halliwell: The Incredibles is still the best superhero movie ever made, and its sequel proves that the Parrs laugh in the face of superhero fatigue.
Tjarks: The idea of a family of superheroes is still a pretty interesting twist on the whole concept. I wish they had advanced everyone further in age from the first one so they could have taken the story in a new direction.
Bozek: My feelings haven’t changed. The Incredibles movies seem to be in a league of their own in that I don’t find myself comparing or relating them to movies out of the MCU.
Serrano: The Incredibles are still just OK. Outside of Edna Mode, I wasn’t especially into them prior to this new movie, and after I2 I’m probably still not especially into them.
Herman: To be honest, it feels like every other franchise we dutifully show up for—or just too much like it for comfort. In the back of my mind, I was expecting something so fresh and compelling it would single-handedly demonstrate what compelled Brad Bird and his collaborators to return to this world after a 14-year hiatus. Instead, I left with the feeling that the simplest explanation was also the likeliest one: The Incredibles made a lot of money, and these days, everything that can make money does until it can’t anymore.
Surrey: There are too many Syndromes ruining everything.
9. Where does Incredibles 2 rank in Pixar’s filmography?
Serrano: Outside of the top 10, I’m certain.
Halliwell: If I take our Pixar ranking as the definitive order, I’d put it right below Inside Out and above Monsters, Inc.
Bozek: This might be a recency bias, but for me, Incredibles 2 is right above the original Incredibles, which is a top-three Pixar movie.
Herman: It’s first among the sequels except for the Toy Story ones, and behind every original except The Good Dinosaur. So … 15th?
Tjarks: Pretty low. This felt more like a sequel produced to make more money, rather than one that needed to be made.
Surrey: Probably just outside the top 10, which has more to do with Pixar’s incomparable streak of instant classics. Incredibles 2 doesn’t quite live up to those absurdly high standards, but it’s quite good. Don’t be surprised if it wins an Oscar in 2019.