While every other superhero and heroine pops up with boring regularity, it took 14 years for the family of Incredibles to return, and what a joy it is to watch Brad Bard sprinkle a dash of ‘normalcy’ to the superheroes. So Mr Incredible (voiced by Craig T Nelson), Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) and their three kids are thrown once again into the save-the-world whirlpool that makes having superpowers worthwhile. The Disney-Pixar creation may not have too many surprises, but it has wit, warmth and a baby that can show the villains a thing or two about superpower — he has 17 at last count!
Superheroes are having trouble displaying their skills when they have been outlawed. The Parr family — Bob, Helen,Violet, Dash and Jack-Jack when they are out of costume — are at the end of their tether when an offer comes that will help superheroes regain legitimacy. Telecommunications tycoon Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk) and his tech-wizard sister Evelyn (Catherine Keener) offer them a home and employment, but they want Elastigirl of the magically flexible body to be the one who will change the perception of superheroes. So, as it happens with so many families, the husband is left at home minding the kids, while the wife vrooms around on an Elastibike, being the postergirl of friendly, neighbourhood superheroes.
The enemy here, in keeping with the times (though the design is resolutely retro) is an entity called Screenslaver, that can control minds through a kind of mass hypnosis enabled by telescreens. While Helen tries to trace Screenslaver, Bob has to handle a teen with boyfriend problems, a disgruntled and hyperactive tween having trouble with maths homework, and the uncontrollable toddler discovering his powers. By the end of the day, Bob is ready to collapse with exhaustion.
Two wonderful characters from the last film reappear — Frozone (Samuel L Jackson) or the kids’ Uncle Lucius, and Edna Mode (Brad Bird), who designs superhero costumes and has the energy to baby sit Jack Jack. The film is furiously fast-paced with delightful action sequences — like Elastigirl stopping a runaway train, but also pauses to deal with ordinary family problems; the sequences with Jack-Jack are ultimately what give the film its delightful moments — that backyard fight with a raccoon is worth the price of a ticket. Ignore the somewhat dated gender politics and the film is hugely enjoyable.