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Review: Jack-Jack is scene-stealer in strong 'Incredibles 2'

Cary Ashby • Jun 17, 2018 at 8:00 AM

SANDUSKY — A movie that inspires a modern audience to clap as the credits start to roll is rare indeed.

Having a crowd enthusiastically applaud when the movie titles appear onscreen at the beginning is even more rare.

So what about when fans clap, hoop and holler just before that? “Incredibles 2” director/screenwriter Brad Bird and the voice actors (Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson and Co.) present a short video before the film, thanking people for their patience in the “14 long years” since “The Incredibles” was released. Cue the exuberant crowd noise, clapping that also happened during one of the funnier sequences and again when the villain is defeated. 

“Well worth the wait,” a teenage fan was heard saying Thursday as the end-credits started at Cinemark Stadium in Sandusky.

When it all comes down to it, I would have to agree for the most part. “Incredibles 2” is a fun cinematic experience and worthy successor to the 2004 original, which is nothing less than a classic — whether you enjoy superhero films or not. That’s a high standard; so when this movie nut says “Incredibles 2” isn’t quite as good, that still means it’s well worth your money to see it in theaters.

But let’s get this straight first: Along with “Deadpool 2” (reviewed May 21 in the Reflector) and “Ant-Man and the Wasp” (out July 6), “Incredibles 2” was one of the few summer genre movies that truly got me excited. I will stick by what I said in Part 1 of my online preview of notable 2018 films, “since Bird wasn’t about to make a sequel until he had a great story to tell, this one should generate a lot of money and have people buzzing.”

Superheroes are still outlawed in the world of “Incredibles 2,” whose opening scene pits the Parr family against the Underminer from the closing minutes of the original movie. After the exciting opening, it takes a while for “Incredibles 2” to find its sweet spot.

The sequel is the time for Elastigirl (Hunter) to shine in a shinier and slightly “dark and angst-y” version of her original costume. DevTech has recruited her to be the face of convincing society it’s OK to legalize the cape-and-cowl crowd. 

Elastigirl’s new job leaves Mr. Incredible (Nelson) as the stay-at-home dad. He is forced to learn the “new math” being studied by his son Dash and deal with his delightfully grumpy daughter Violet, who is having a case of “adolesence.” 

Jackson’s too-cool-for-school Frozone gets much more screen time, which is always a good time. Bird is back in a brief yet delightful turn as superhero wardrobe designer Edna Mode, a diva whose unexpected doting over Jack-Jack is a pleasure.  

In case you can’t tell from the footage, Jack-Jack steals the show — er, movie. The infant’s random array of powers (hinted at in the original) leads to adorable escapes from his bedtime and a hysterical showdown with a raccoon.

The revelation of the villain isn’t a shocker if you’re paying attention. Along the way, Bird sneaks in a mighty message of just how powerful and seductive the TV screen is (in the 1950s-era “Incredibles” world) and now, our own devices.

The writer-director now has populated his universe with plenty of heroes, so there are many possibilities for the future of this family-friendly franchise. My favorite — and I bet I’m not alone — is the neurotic Voyd (Sophia Bush, best known for playing Erin Lindsay in several “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” episodes and “Chicago Fire”). But Brad Bird, please don’t make us wait another 14 years for a sequel.

Grade: B

In case you’re keeping score at home, “Incredibles 2” is a distant second behind “Deadpool 2” for the best genre movie of 2018 so far. Here is the rest of the Cary’s Comics Craze countdown: 3) “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” 4) “Black Panther” and in fifth place is “Avengers: Infinity War,” a solid but forgettable and bloated downer that doesn’t deliver the ultimate Marvel Studios movie we were promised.

Reflector staff writer Cary Ashby shares his views, reviews, previews and interviews about the superhero industry and action-adventure genre on his Cary’s Comics Craze blog, caryscomicscraze.blogspot.com. CCC originally ran as a twice-monthly column in the Reflector for nearly 10 years. Follow Ashby on Facebook at “Cary Ashby — reporter & comic book blogger” and on Twitter at @Cary_reporter.

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