Have you seen Incredibles 2? If you liked 2004's The Incredibles, about a family of superheroes in a sort of midcentury-modern-flavored alternate universe America, you’ll likely enjoy its sequel very much. As you might expect from any big-budget sequel it’s a little less fresh than the original and bloated in ways good and bad; like the original, it has a strain of weird Objectivism running through its story of downtrodden superhumans oppressed by society’s demand that they not unilaterally impose their towering wills upon the rest of the world. But it’s fun as hell, with big kinetic action set pieces to rival pretty much anything I’ve seen in the past couple years. It makes you laugh; it makes you gasp; once or twice it might make you burst out in spontaneous applause.
And, at least in the case of the New Yorker film critic Anthony Lane, it makes you want to fuck Elastigirl so bad you have to ice down your dick and balls right there in your seat.
As a rule, any marriage in which one partner can willingly cry out to the other, “Trampoline me!,” inspires only envy and awe. In the heat of the action, that is what Mr. Incredible says to Mrs. Incredible, in “Incredibles 2,” and I’m disappointed to report that the action in question is merely the manic pursuit of a gigantic drill that is whirring through a crowded city and demolishing everything in its path, rather than a lazy afternoon in the marital boudoir with the door discreetly shut.
First came “Mad Men,” which boasted its own range of period accoutrements, but which choked our yearning for the suits, the smokes, the frocks, the whiskey tumblers, the Sinatra albums, and the rest of the gear by reminding us of the society that they once adorned, with its oppressions both casual and institutional, and its half-concealed despairs. “Incredibles 2” can scarcely own up to those, not with young children in the audience, but what it can do, even without stating the dilemma, is to offer a solution. Hence the sight of Helen, accelerating off to work, away from her justly abandoned man, in her black mask, her long tall boots, and her empowering outfit, as tight as a second skin.
But most especially (emphasis mine):
Take your seat at any early-evening screening of “Incredibles 2” in the coming days, listen carefully, and you may just hear a shifty sound, as of parents squirming awkwardly beside their enraptured offspring. And why, kids? Because Mommy just leaned over to Daddy and whispered, “Is it just me, or does Mrs. Incredible kind of look like Anastasia in ‘Fifty Shades of Grey?’ You know, the girl in the Red Room, with the whips and all?” And Daddy just rested his cooling soda firmly in his lap and, like Mr. Incredible, tried very hard to think of algebra. As for how Daddy will react later on, during the scene in which Helen and the husky-voiced Evelyn unwind and simply talk, woman to woman, I hate to think, but watch out for flying popcorn.
This is, uh, uncomfortable for lots of reasons, of course. One of those reasons is that Incredibles 2 is resolutely sexless, even compared to the PG-rated original: Where The Incredibles featured some early flirtation between Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl, and a montage that (to grownup viewers, at least) strongly implied the former’s return to superhero work had improved their sex life, the sequel strictly treats them as Mom and Dad. Another of those reasons is that Incredibles 2 is a children’s movie for children. And a third of those reasons is that it’s incredibly fucking weird to write and publish a paragraph envisioning grown men icing down their erections in movie theaters full of children.
Anyway, there you have it. When you are deciding whether to check out this animated kids’ movie, the New Yorker would like you to consider the fact that it made its film critic want to honk off into his popcorn.