But, to be fair, the Toy Story sequels were quite good, so I was willing to give this a chance.
And... it was a good sequel. I mean, for a sequel.
Let me begin by saying that I think they do a good job of making fun of Pixar tropes. I can't say too much about this because I don't want to give away any spoilers, but let's just say there's something of a reverse-Hans from Frozen moment in the movie.
Also, kind of like the first one, there's some discussion in the movie about whether "super" is actually good. The main villain, called Screenslaver, has a monologue at one point where he says something like, "You've all allowed yourselves to live through the superheroes on your screen. You keep waiting for superheroes to save you rather than doing something to save yourselves." Which is... interesting. Look, I love superheroes in movies, but, do people wait around for superheroes to save them in real life?
Which actually brings me to a third point. The movie indicates at several points the idea that being "super" isn't what makes you a hero. This comes up with Elastigirl, and it also comes up with a non-super, who has to make a choice to either survive or save other lives, and chooses to save other lives. That. Was. Awesome.
And my final good point - the movie was funny. It was cleverly written, well-animated, and just all-around funny. For example, you know that whole raccoons-look-like-they're-wearing-evil-masks joke? This movie actually made very good use of it, and had me laughing for several minutes! This probably goes without saying, but Jack Jack was hilarious.
All that notwithstanding... it was still a sequel.
The first half-hour or so feels like a rehash of the first one, but with Elastigirl instead of Mr. Incredible, and the villain is also definitely a rehash of Syndrome and Mirage from the first movie. Shamelessly so. The villain was still interesting enough, but, as Selah put it, "They couldn't do better in fourteen years?!"
Another thing that bugged me was the amount of social commentaries in this movie. None of them were so in-your-face that they were unbearable, but there were faaaar too many. Here are just a few that I caught:
- addiction to screens, living through other people's experiences rather than through your own
- what makes a friend (I assume this has to do with "online friends")
- people waiting for superheroes to save them
- what makes a good parent
- the wrong people getting all the credit
That's just the first five I could come up with off the top of my head. I think I remember more, but I can't remember all of them right now. Also, the movie tried to conflate addiction to screes with living through superheroes (kind of the way Moana tried to conflate "know where you are" with "be who you are"), and I don't think the two are necessarily related.
And finally, there was one scene that just bugged me. Elastigirl is sitting with Mirage 2 (I think her real name was Evelyn, but I'm calling her Mirage 2), and Mirage 2 asks something like, "Don't you ever feel upstaged by your husband? Like he gets all the glory you should have?" Props to the movie that Elastigirl said something to the effect of, "No." On the one hand, I am glad they didn't feel the need to victimize her somehow (I'm well aware that there are guys who take credit for other people's work, but it is totally unfair to say that Mr. Incredible is one of them. Come on. The guy is the most earnest guy alive). On the other hand, I wish she had said, "It's not about the spotlight. It's about saving people's lives. That matters more than all the credit." That would a) have really highlighted the whole "what makes a hero?" bit, and b) have been more right. This is sort of what Aragorn once had to say to Eowyn - "There may come a time for valor without renown." It doesn't make it any less heroic.
All that notwithstanding, it was still an enjoyable movie. I feel like Selah's comment - "They couldn't do better in fourteen years?!" - is both perfectly fair and pretty useful for summing up the majority of this movie's problems. But, if you didn't know that they had fourteen years to make the movie, it would be perfectly acceptable. It's no Toy Story 2, but it's also not your average Disney sequel. My advice? Go see it. There are far worse movies out right now to watch.