Blu-Ray Pick of the Week: Incredibles 2

“Christopher Robin” and “Black KkKlansman” are also new to Blu-Ray this week. 

“Incredibles 2” is ostensibly a superhero movie. Undoubtedly, Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible (voice of Craig T. Nelson), Helen Parr/Elastigirl (voice of Holly Hunter), Violet Parr/Invisible Girl (voice of Sarah Vowell), and Dashiell Parr/Dash (voice of Huck Milner), all make a great superhero team called The Incredibles—even if they don’t always get along as a family. However, the real gold to be mined in this movie has nothing to do with form-fitting superhero suits and dastardly villains. It involves something much more human and relatable.

The superhero shenanigans are fine, if a bit typical by today’s standards. Back in 2004 when the first “Incredibles” movie appeared, the cineplexes weren’t flooded with three to four movies per year of the same genre. In 2018, between the MCU, DCU, and whatever other CU is out there, we have a very saturated market. A lot of story lines have been done and done again. Take for example the fact that superheroes are “illegal” in the world of “Incredibles 2.” Right off the top of my head, “X-Men,” “Watchmen,” and “Captain America: Civil War” have all played notes on this same basic theme.

The action is adequate as the movie opens and closes with some well-staged set pieces involving big vehicles moving perilously fast toward innocent civilians. The opening, which picks up where the last movie ends with the introduction of villain Underminer (voice of John Ratzenberger), is not handled perfectly by The Incredibles, much to the ire of otherwise sleepy-eyed Federal agent Rick Dicker (voice of Jonathan Banks). Their actions force him into retirement and force The Incredibles—as well as all other superheroes—to be retired for good too.

Luckily for them, a brilliant industrialist—and Incredibles mega-fan—named Winston Deavor (voice of Bob Odenkirk) wants to sponsor them back into action. Or at least, they want Elastigirl back in action. The rest of the team needs to ride the bench while she makes superheroes accepted again. Winston’s sister Evelyn (voice of Catherine Keener) is a technical genius. She creates some gadgets for Elastigirl to use to fight crime, not the least of which is the cool new Elasticycle.

From here the narrative splinters. Elastigirl quickly finds an arch nemesis in Screenslaver (voice of Bill Wise), who lectures folks about how screens are taking over their lives and controlling their minds while hypocritically using screens to control people’s minds. This guy is all over the place motivation-wise. The cat and mouse game they play is fun and entertaining enough, but nothing too exciting. Elastigirl displays some clever sleuthing skills, showing that she can do more than just stretch really far.

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The real prize in “Incredibles 2” is what happens with the rest of the family. Mr. Incredible may be a great superhero, but he has a lot of learning and growing to do as a dad. This is way more interesting because it takes the character out of his comfort zone and gives him obstacles to overcome that can’t just be lifted over his head and thrown. He needs to connect with Violet and come to terms with her blossoming interest in boys. Even more pressing, he needs to figure out how to handle the emerging super powers of adorable baby Jack-Jack (voice of Eli Fucile), who turns into a fire-breathing monster whenever he doesn’t get a cookie.

With the exception of the fire-breathing, I am sure a lot of parents can relate—there are times when their own little “monsters” act the same way, and for similar reasons. I also appreciated that they didn’t dumb down the Mr. Incredible character and all of a sudden turn him into a bumbling idiot. They kept him as a strong, levelheaded man who is just trying to do the best he can as a father but finds himself overwhelmed. It could happen to any parent. Thankfully The Incredibles have Edna Mode (voice of Brad Bird) as a family friend.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with going to a superhero movie for the superhero action. “Incredibles 2’ has plenty and it is entertaining enough. However, the heart of the movie is in the relatable moments with Mr. Incredible and the family. Rent it for superhero fun, but Buy it for a great story about a man who grows as a dad and learns what it means to be in charge of a family.

Also New This Week

Christopher Robin

Growing up and being responsible is for chumps. At least, that’s the main thrust of the assertion by honey-loving, red shirt/no pants wearing bear Winnie the Pooh (voice of Jim Cummings). He also has some pithy sayings about how doing nothing leads to the best kind of something.

This is advice that young Christopher Robin (Orton O'Brien) heard as a child while hanging out with Pooh in the 100-Acre Wood in the English countryside. It’s advice that he forgot as the realities of life closed in on him and he had to grow up, get educated, go to war, get married, hold a job and take care of his family.

Now played by Ewan McGregor, the older Robin works in the accounting department of a luggage factory for an unscrupulous fop named Giles Winslow (Mark Gatiss). The company is in trouble, and it’s up to Robin to figure out how to save money over the course of a weekend. Plans to stay at home while his wife (Hayley Atwell) and daughter (Bronte Carmichael) go away to the countryside are interrupted by the return of Pooh, who misses his old friend Christopher Robin.

Of course, life lessons abound as the workaholic Robin gets reminded about the benefits of doing nothing and reassesses his priorities in life. While in real life what happens in this movie would have gotten Robin in much more trouble or fired, it’s fun to indulge in the fantasy that the world appreciates those who do nothing. While that is not the case, “Christopher Robin” makes a good point that focusing too much on work isn’t healthy either. I think the answer is that we’re supposed to balance Pooh’s philosophy with the adult Robin’s philosophy. Doing nothing is important, but only for so long. Eventually, you need to get up and do something or it’s all just a waste. Rent it.

Black KkKlansman

For non-political folks out there who see the craziness going on with the left wing in America and wonder how people get indoctrinated into it, a movie like “Black KkKlansman” will offer some insight. This is Spike Lee’s attempt to tie the 1970s investigation of the Colorado Springs chapter of the Ku Klux Klan by black detective Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) to the political climate of today, specifically the events of Charlottesville, VA, in 2017 and the presidency of Donald Trump.

This ill-advised, dishonest, propagandistic attempt is pathetic at best and dangerous at worst. The reasoning is beyond specious, ending with cherry-picked clips from the real-life 2017 tragedy. The problem with David Duke, who is seen in real footage in 2017 and played in the movie by Topher Grace, is that he took a reasonable, positive message and twisted its meaning to fit his own agenda. The same problem can be said of director/co-writer Spike Lee, who is doing the same exact thing with this movie. It’s as if Duke and Lee are both hearing the same message, except that one is for it and one is against it. That doesn’t change the fact that both of their interpretations are wrong. Not just wrong, but delusional and divisive. It’s true that you can lead a horse to water but can’t make him drink. In much the same way, you can deliver a message loudly and clearly, but that doesn’t mean people will hear it correctly. Skip it if you’re tired of race-baiting leftist nonsense, Stream it if you’re curious as to why they think the way they do.

More New Releases: “The Last Sharknado: It's About Time,” in which Fin (Ian Ziering) must unlock the time-traveling power of the Sharknados in order to save the world. Yes—you read that right. Also starring Tara Reid and Vivica A. Fox.

Andrew Hudak is a lifelong film lover. His column on Blu-Ray new releases appears every Tuesday. He lives in Connecticut.

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