*Some spoilers ahead*
When I saw Incredibles 2 last week the thing immediately struck me was how adult the film was. I don’t mean that they snuck in inappropriate jokes or explicit references or anything like that. No, I’m talking about the very mature themes prevalent in the plot and character development. While the movie on the whole had some structural and pacing issues, it was very entertaining and a breath of fresh air from Disney/Pixar that I think may reveal the next steps for the entertainment behemoth.
The ongoing joke after Incredibles 2 was announced was that it “wasn’t for kids,” but rather it was for the young adults that grew up with The Incredibles. I really liked this concept, but I didn’t think Disney/Pixar would actually follow through with it, and certainly not in the capacity that they did.
Bob’s central conflict was his struggle with being a full time parent and being in his wife’s shadow, and Helen’s central conflict was around being caught between feeling guilty that she left her family and legitimately enjoying what she was doing. Disney/Pixar went with a sort of gender-swap of their roles from the first film, which I really liked. The other dichotomy between them was their differing (for lack of a better term) political views regarding the super situation. Or rather, their views weren’t different exactly — they both believed the treatment of the supers was unjust — but the way that they dealt with it was very different. Both of their arguments were very compelling, and it was easy to see the parallel to real life minority groups.
Children in the audience will not, of course, recognize the film’s blatant political undertones, but in today’s climate, adults can’t miss it. But just in case they did, the film makes a direct jab with Violet’s line at the end of the movie after Evelyn is arrested — “Too bad she’s rich and will probably just get a slap on the wrist!”
Aside from the sociopolitical nature of the film, a large part of it also takes place in adult settings. They mingle and drink at cocktail parties, they discuss marketing & sales operations, and their villain raises philosophical questions about our dependency on technology. Personally while watching this film I was shocked that the kids in the audience were staying engaged with it, particularly during the scene where Helen and Evelyn discuss the most important aspect of business and commerce. Maybe in fact the kids weren’t at all engaged with it, and that was a very interesting thought for me because kids have, of course, always been Disney/Pixar’s audience.
But in this film Disney/Pixar didn’t seem to care at all about whether or not kids were following it. The animation was fun to watch on its own, and they threw in the one sequence with Jack-Jack and the raccoon (which goes on a very long time and pulled me out of the story), but that seems the only genuine effort made by the movie to appeal to its primary audience.
Does this mean there are other opportunities on the horizon? Animation has long been deemed “for kids,” but it’s actually just another means of storytelling. Disney already owns huge franchises like Pirates of the Caribbean (which was its first PG-13 film and is rather explicitly adult at times), and they’ve bought Marvel, which is filled with plenty of things that are not strictly appropriate for children. Is Incredibles 2 another step towards Disney’s expanding audience? Could there be a time when Disney/Pixar makes a PG-13 animated film? An R rated film?
Even the short shown before the movie, Bao, was about a mother watching her son grow up and leave her. That’s not a conflict that a child can relate to. It seemed purposefully adult.
Incredibles 2 felt almost like a test run for more adult oriented programming, and I for one enjoyed every minute of it.
Tell Us: Do you think Disney/Pixar will ever do a true film “for adults”?