This is the rare sequel that lives up to everyone's massive expectations and delivers as much of the joy, pathos, and adventure as the original. Some critics and fans initially questioned the need for a sequel to The Incredibles, especially one that took more than a decade to arrive (Milner, who replaces Spencer Fox as the voice of Dash, wasn't even alive when the original came out!). But director Brad Bird has struck magic again with his exploration of contemporary family life via superheroes. Incredibles 2 puts Elastigirl in the spotlight, showing the many challenges involved with balancing work and home, even when you have superpowers. The way Elastigirl worries and feels guilty about missing Jack-Jack's first powers emerging is as relatable and believable as Mr. Incredible's frustration while trying to figure out modern-curriculum math when he sits down to help Dash with homework. As the saying goes, it's funny because it's true.
Michael Giacchino's jazzy score and the movie's vibrant, mid-century modern designs are endearingly retro, but Incredibles 2 is simultaneously current with its depiction of technical advances (body cameras, navigation trackers, etc.). But ultimately it's the characters that viewers want to see more of, and they're all lovably back, including crowd favorite fashion designer Edna Mode (Bird), who again steals scenes during a hilarious bit in which a desperate Mr. Incredible asks her to babysit humorously out-of-control Jack-Jack. Jackson/Frozone isn't in many scenes but has some great moments. As for the new characters, Keener in particular is fabulous as the mysterious, gravelly voiced Evelyn; her conversations with Hunter's Elastigirl are well-done and fraught with tension. Bird is a keen observer of what it means to be part of a close and happy family, so this sequel will make audiences laugh, think, and (hopefully) appreciate their parents and siblings.