Brad Bird, Director X, Incredibles 2, Jeff Tomsic, Superfly, Tag
INCREDIBLES 2 [PG] B
Fourteen years ago, writer-director Brad Bird introduced us to a world where a family of superheroes were forced to operate under the radar; an idea that certainly runs counter to every comic book adaptation presented. As a society we want extraordinary folks saving the day, and now, the sequel to “Incredibles” arrives and an ultra-rich superhero fanboy (Bob Odenkirk) and his brainy sister (Catherine Keener) seek out the premier crime-fighting family – Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson), Elastigirl (Holly Hunter), Violet (Sarah Vowell), Dash (Huck Milner) and baby Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile) – to lead an effort to change the laws banning supers. The first movie crackled with wit and the unexpected thrills of the contrasts, but “Incredibles 2” settles into a more conventional vibe, gathering an “Avengers” lite collection of one-note types to face-off against the first family before teaming up for the big finish.
SUPERFLY [R] D+
Say what you will about the blaxploitation flicks of the 1970s, but at their core, they enjoyed a built-in topicality. There was always the sense that the narratives were a big middle finger to “The Man” and a system that didn’t want to believe that black folks deserved the right to the spotlight, which ending up framing the pimps, pushers, and hustlers of the movies as revolutionary anti-heroes. One of the signature icons of the age was Priest (Ron O’Neal), the “Super Fly” drug dealer looking to get out of the game who had to face-off against corrupt cops and criminal-minded rivals in order to break free. Music video veteran Director X and screenwriter Alex Tse (“Watchmen”) update the tale with young blood Trevor Jackson in the O’Neal role, but the new iteration lacks meaning. In a world where the same dangers (or, in terms of the violence by the police has escalated), “Superfly” refuses to make a statement. Instead, this movie is content replaying the greatest hits of the gangsta rap era, which were little more than Xeroxes retellings of blaxploitation myths.
TAG [PG-13] B+
I realize that most reviewers and casual moviegoers were probably intrigued by the real-life angle of “Tag,” which was adapted from a story that ran in the Wall Street Journal about a group of childhood friends who maintained their game of Tag into adulthood, as a means of continuing their bond. Television veteran Jeff Tomsic captures both the goofy hijinks and the sentimentality of the crew – thanks in large part to the offbeat charms of his cast (Jake Johnson, Jon Hamm, Ed Helms, Hannibal Buress, and Isla Fisher), but the real engine driving this vehicle is Jeremy Renner who, as the one guy that has never been “it” during decades of play, embodies the ultimate bad-ass nature of a superhero among mere mortals. I sincerely hope the Disney/Marvel brain-trust pays close attention to “Tag,” because this is the blueprint for how to make the perfect “Hawkeye” stand-alone movie. Get busy!