It isn't hard to guess at least one of the contenders for this year's Best Animated Film: "Incredibles 2."
The late-in-coming sequel has such a gold mine in young Jack-Jack he, alone, should win votes and influence people.
In the update (which actually picks up where the last one left off), the Incredibles (known in their neighborhood as the Parrs) are leading a dull life in a bad motel when a mogul approaches Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) with a plan to bring back all superheroes. He wants her to lead the charge. Meanwhile, Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) is charged with taking care of the kids in a lavish midcentury-modern home, complete with waterfalls and swimming pools.
Because it affects the fate of others, Bob and Helen Parr agree and, soon, Mr. Incredible is Mr. Mom and hating every minute of it.
Meanwhile, Elastigirl is bonding with the mogul’s sister (Catherine Keener), a tech wiz who likes the idea of female empowerment.
The baddie? An anonymous hacker named Screenslaver who manages to hypnotize anyone with a computer screen. One by one, folks fall – including a bunch of marginal superheroes who haven’t quite realized their full potential.
Writer/director Brad Bird has fun with the dumb heroes (whose skills are weak) but really flies with Jack-Jack. Just realizing his strength, he has multiple powers (not unlike Mad Madam Mim in “The Sword in the Stone”) that make life difficult for dad but cool for audiences. When he becomes angry, the demon comes out and crimefighting heats up.
While Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson), an Elsa before Elsa, and Edna Mode (Brad Bird) are reduced to cameos, they provide interest just when the film threatens to become predictable.
The film’s architecture and graphics are worth inspecting; its special effects keep things moving at a fast clip.
A simple story about Violet (Sarah Vowell) and a boy she likes doesn’t seem up to par with the Parr exploits, but it enables Bird to find one more victim for the Screenslaver.
Like “Wall-E,” “Incredibles 2” isn’t afraid to tackle 21st century obsessions with cellphones, computers and video games. It doesn’t really need some alien predator to attempt world domination. All it requires is endless hours staring.
Bird’s premise is legit, even though you’ll swear you’ve seen aspects in several other films. The joy comes in what he’s able to do with those on the fringes. Mr. Incredible is a bit of a stiff, but the next generation is loaded with potential. Take a cookie away from Jack-Jack and watch the fireworks explode.
He’s an Oscar acceptance speech just waiting to happen.