Tag Archives: Holly Hunter

Screen Savers

Incredibles 2

by George Wolf

I’m no math whiz, but 2004 seems somewhere close to 14 years ago. You wouldn’t know it from Incredibles 2,¬†where no time has passed. Kicking off right where the original left off, the long-awaited sequel delivers just enough of the same charm to stave off some stale odors.

The super-powered Parr family has been sidelined, along with all the others like them, thanks to the law against superheroes. But when the evil Screenslayer starts cyber-attacking the city, local tycoon Winston Deavor (voiced by Bob Odenkirk) and his tech-savvy sister Evelyn (Catherine Keener) hatch a plan to get the supers back on the job.

It starts with putting Helen Parr aka Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) on the trail of Screenslayer, leaving Bob/Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) alone to care for baby Jack-Jack, help Dash (Huck Milner) with his homework and Violet (Sarah Vowell) with her first heartbreak.

Brad Bird returns as writer/director, armed with a worthy game plan but not quite enough nerve to swing for the fences.

While the Deavor’s groom Elastigirl for a media makeover, Screenslayer’s plan is to use technology against its users, and to “destroy the people’s trust in it.” Call that incredibly timely, and fertile ground for some Zootopia-style animated bite.

Bird is more interested in exploring the warm family fuzzies. That’s fine, but the “can clueless Dad handle the house while Mom’s at work?” angle feels every bit 14 years old, even more so when you consider the edgy path Bird abandons to chase one so safe and comfortable.

But hey, it’s summer, why so serious?

Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) is back in chill mode, the action sequences pop and the animation has the requisite pizazz. I2 is a part 2 that’s easy to enjoy.

Outside of the near-perfect Toy Story franchise, Pixar sequels (much like sequels in general) have often faltered. Incredibles 2 ranks as one of their best, even with all it leaves on the table.

 

 

 

 

Life Support

The Big Sick

by George Wolf

The Big Sick is that rare breed seldom seen in the wilds of the multiplex. It’s a smart and incisive romantic comedy that has something new and vital to say while it’s being both romantic and comedic.

It also feels incredibly authentic, probably because co-writers Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani are telling much of their own story.

Kumail (Nanjiani) is a struggling standup comedian in Chicago who can’t bring himself to tell his traditional Pakistani family about his new girlfriend Emily (Zoe Kazan). Family pressures eventually lead to a breakup, not long before Emily becomes hospitalized with a mysterious infection that becomes life-threatening.

Emily’s parents (Holly Hunter and Ray Romano) know all about Kumail, and they aren’t exactly thrilled with his insistence on hanging around the hospital with a visitor’s badge.

Director Michael Showalter (Wet Hot American Summer, Hello My Name is Doris), is blessed with a uniformly wonderful ensemble cast, and he guides the actors through alternating levels of humor and societal insight that feel effortlessly organic.

We see a Muslim family portrayed much as any other movie family might be (imagine!), with generational conflicts that are plenty familiar, even if they manifest in unfamiliar ways. Bonus points for cleverly educating about Pakistani culture while also finding the funny in culture clash and persistent stereotypes.

Almost all the humor – be it scatalogical, corny, or suddenly dark – finds a mark, and is paired with a constant undercurrent of relatable humanity that draws us into these characters and becomes truly touching.

At times hilarious, sweet,  emotional and even heartbreaking, The Big Sick has a case of charming that will follow you home.

Let’s hope it’s catching.

Verdict-4-0-Stars