Critics usually give animated features a pass if they can. Especially Disney/Pixar product. It’s safer and simpler to just wave the bull through. Mainly because they don’t want to sound mean or grumpy when it comes to well-funded family fare. Hence the 97% Rotten Tomatoes score for a Disney/Pixar sequel that is clearly, obviously not as good as the 2004 original.

It therefore takes a certain degree of courage to stand up to a film like Incredibles 2, and so HE offers a salute to Variety‘s Owen Gleiberman and Chicago Tribune critic Michael Phillips.

Gleiberman: “Incredibles 2 offers a puckishly high-spirited but slightly strenuous replay of the original film’s tale of a superhero family working to prove its relevance. What was organic, and even obsessive, in the first outing comes off as pat and elaborate formula here. The new movie, energized as it is, too often feels like warmed-over sloppy seconds.

“In the years since the ’04 original, the cult of the superhero has all but taken over the culture, which is one reason why Incredibles 2 was likely greenlit. So it feels a little off-kilter to realize that superheroes, in Incredibles 2, are still illegal, and that the Parrs are living like refugees, holed up in the Safari Court Motel. As a concept, the reset never fully gels. It’s a convoluted way of rehashing the first film (with less pizzazz) instead of building something new on top of it.

“Each story point hits us with its overly calculated ‘relevance.’ Bob’s awkwardness as a nurturer in the brave new world of dads-as-homemakers; Helen’s proud post-feminist advancement over her husband; the ominous threat of whatever comes through the computer screen — it’s all a bit too thought out, and maybe a tad behind the curve.”

Phillips: “Incredibles 2 is the 14-years-later sequel, again from Disney-Pixar, again from writer-director Bird. It’s just okay, which is somehow a little less than okay, considering the artistic heights the studio has scaled at its peak.

“Others will disagree, but to me Incredibles 2 falls short of the level of Toy Story 2 or Finding Dory. Bird’s rather strenuous sequel lands more in the camp of Cars 2 and Monsters University, mistaking calamity and mayhem for real excitement and wit. In a narrative about how to handle your work/life balance to the benefit of both spouses as well as the betterment of your children, Incredibles 2 seems content to punch the clock and do its job reasonably well.”