Just Incredible

The perceived parental wisdom about kids’ cinema is that we hope the movie we’re going to see has something for the grown-ups too.

While it’s assumed that the young will have a good time regardless, we’re left praying for little titbits of witty wisdom which go over the children’s heads but which acknowledge our world-weary state.

It almost seems to accept that adults and children are different species with entirely different requirements. As if we can’t both enjoy popcorn.

I suppose there’s some truth in this.

But there’s a bigger truth. A bad film is a bad film. A good film is a good film. And just occasionally you get the chance to see something which is really incredible.

Granted, I don’t get to go the movies anywhere near as often as I once did. And, as a parent, the range of pictures viewed is not what I would prefer.

And the recent narrative seems to have been that Hollywood has pretty much hoisted the white flag. Producing countless, drab and mindless special-effects laden superhero ‘epics’ while leaving it to companies such as Netflix to produce proper drama which makes you ponder the very nature and condition of the human soul.

But then Pixar produces The Incredibles II.

It’s a family film in every sense. Parents and children can enjoy it together. But more than that its whole ethos is concerned with the nature of family. What does it mean to each of us?

No single entertainment experience has made me laugh or brought me to the edge of tears so often in several years.

And, as a father who constantly is finding new ways to juggle parental and employment responsibilities, the sight of lantern-jawed Mr Incredible looking after the kids while yearning for the glory days of heroism was stirring.

This is not a movie review (I’ll leave that to those who genuinely know what they’re talking about), but the scene where the faded hero is desperately trying to feign excitement while his delighted wife Elastigirl recites her latest adventure on the other end of the phone is close to heartbreaking.

There are two stars in this film. The baby Jack-Jack, who is beginning to develop multiple super powers, delivers a series of visual gags which maintains the pace throughout.

But even Jack-Jack is overshadowed by the brilliance of Holly Hunter as the shape-shifting Elastigirl. While last year’s Wonder Woman movie aimed high, it is Elastigirl who truly manages to redefine the superhero genre with a feminine touch.

A true superheroine manages to avert disaster and save innocent victims without destroying everything in her path.

Hunter pulls this off while simultaneously seducing every father in the cinema by drowning us in her creamy southern drawl while her character straddles a motorcycle in thigh-high boots.

And there’s another, even more personal reason why I love The Incredibles II.

Until this weekend my little boy had not been to the cinema in more than a year. He had developed a terror of the noise and darkness which, his mother and I feared, was turning into a phobia which could plague him throughout his childhood.

We had aborted several attempts to get him inside a cinema with my son reduced to tears and distress and mummy and I not far behind.

Then The Incredibles happened.

My boy has watched the first movie several times on my iPad. He was desperate to see the sequel but hampered by his fear of the picture house.

But the draw was just too strong and, brilliantly managed by his grandmother and aunt, he went to see the movie on its first day of release.

Then, flushed with triumph and excitement, he insisted on taking mummy and me to see it on its second day of release.

I suspect we’ll end up going to see it again. That’s just fine with me.

He’s had a breakthrough and a whole new world of adventure and magic has been opened up to him.

And it’s all down to The Incredibles. They truly are superheroes.

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