The youngest member of the Pixar super family, Jack-Jack, steals the spotlight countless times. Photo courtesy of Pixar
It would be easy to dismiss "The Incredibles 2" as yet another superhero movie.
When the first installment came out 14 years ago, heroes were rare. We'd yet to enter the era of a Marvel movie every month or a world where we had not one, not two, but three Incredible Hulk films.
Such scarcity made Pixar's family of superheroes novel in 2004, but it's not a tactic the famous film studio could rely on in the 2018 sequel.
Thankfully, they didn't even try.
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In "Incredibles 2," director Brad Bird and his team show us, once again, what makes moviegoers mad for Pixar. They upend tired tropes. They tap into our modern-day fears. They make us melt.
And then there's this scene with a raccoon.
A spoiler-free summary
For those unfamiliar with the superhero Parr family, dad Bob is your stereotypical hero: cut jaw, super strength, cool car. He's a lovable blowhard. How refreshing then to see him become a stay-at-home dad when his wife, Helen (a.k.a. Elastigirl), gets the career opportunity of a lifetime.
Bird's team handles this all-too familiar family dynamic well: In a two-parent household fortunate enough to make the choice, which parent will work and which will watch the kids? Is one job harder than the other?
This plot could be heavy-handed. It could be obtuse. Instead, what we get is a mother madly in love with her family who also has an identity outside of Super Mom. And we get a dad who realistically struggles with his role at home while also realizing that it also takes strength.
Their kids are great, too. Teenage Violet shows us a young woman slowly but surely coming into her own; little brother Dash perfectly captures that annoying but somehow still endearing vitality of a hyped up kid. And don't even get me started on the antics of the baby of the family, Jack-Jack.
There are people without kids in this movie, too. Edna Mode, fashion designer to the heroic, shows that career-driven doesn't equate to unloving, while Uncle "Frozone" Lucius is the cool uncle we all want.
As for the villains, Pixar gives us screen time personified in the form of super genius The Screenslaver. The hypnosis of screens will be all too familiar to a 21st-century audience. But be warned: There are lots of flash and strobe effects in the movie, so much so that the theater where I saw it posted a warning for viewers with epilepsy.
So, should you go?
All in all, it's a thrill ride that I hope leaves you feeling the way I did: feeling that what I'd seen was a sincerely good movie. Not a good kid's movie but a good movie. Period.
I also hope you take a moment to appreciate how cool it is that our children's entertainment does what "Incredibles 2" does: present a world where it isn't weird that a woman is the star or that a man cares for his kids. That these are normal things that are also super.
Not surprisingly, it's character Edna Mode who captures the essence of this message best when she tells a beleaguered Bob: "Done properly, parenting is a heroic act."
And as "Incredibles 2" shows, we can all be heroes.
Age recommendation for 'Incredibles 2'
"Incredibles 2" is rated PG; Common Sense Media recommends it for ages 8 and above. It’s an action film with no gore but plenty of fighting and one instance of a gun being fired. For those with epilepsy, migraines or chronic illness, the movie uses flashing lights and strobe effects.