INCREDIBLES 2: Pixar films have set the creative bar so high that the likelihood of their annual release winning Oscar’s Best Animated Feature has become that award show’s proverbial free space on a bingo card. Not so much for this long-awaited follow-up to the 2004 hit about the family of superheroes banned from using their powers. Director Brad Bird’s screenplay picks up where his original version left off with the title characters in some hot water over their urban destruction caused by fighting a giant rotating screw controlled by the returning villain Underminer (voiced by John Ratzenberger). But all is not lost when a smooth talking communications magnate/entrepreneur (voiced by Bob Odenkirk) enlists Elastigirl (voiced by Holly Hunter) to be the face of his campaign to abolish the prohibition of superheroes. While the wife works, Mr. Incredible (voiced by Craig T. Nelson) has to stay home with the kids and contend with Violet’s (voiced by Sarah Vowell) boy problems, agile Dash’s (voiced by Huck Milner) adolescent restlessness and Baby Jack-Jack’s multiplicity of out of control abilities. Wait a minute. I remember this plot when it was a live action movie starring Michael Keaton called MR. MOM (1983). It’s not exactly a timely subject and the idea itself is stretched thinner than institutional toilet paper as the narrative abandons any semblance of genuinely sharp comedy in favor of repetitive action sequences that are rather pointless. Technically, the animation is a gem with vivid visual effects that continue to narrow the boundaries between CGI and reality. But there’s an overwhelming sense of aimlessness in the storytelling of this work which may infect both adult and younger viewers with a gradual onset of tedium. What we get instead is a formulaic sequel that’s bigger, longer, louder and corporately bloated with a too generous amount of wretched excess. CRITIC’S GRADE: C+

DOUBLE FEATURE: Adult men connecting with their inner child drives the extremely physical comedy and verbal wit in TAG. The primary plot centers around four childhood friends (Hannibal Burress, Jon Hamm, Ed Helms, Jake Johnson) continuing the kids’ chase game to try and ambush a fellow player (Jeremy Renner) who’s never been “it”. Anarchy ensues in the form of outlandishly funny sequences that smartly push on the envelope of absurdity. But the screenplay by Rob McKittrick and Mark Steilen continuously doubles down on all the rambunctious comic chaos with an excellent ensemble cast and a narrative that also manages to deliver both heart and sentiment that you normally wouldn’t expect to find in a slapstick raunchfest such as this. CRITIC’S GRADE: A-