Jun 29, 2018
   "Incredibles 2" Reviewed: A Sequel in the Shadow of a Masterwork   

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They say you should write what you know, and what Anthony Lane knows without a doubt is that he wants to fuck Elastigirl. But where most toonophiles would write self-insertion slash fiction, or even just turn off Safe Search and hit up Google Images bottomless, Lane tries to bury his desire in 2200 largely extraneous words. Unfortunately for everyone involved, rather than obscuring it the review stretches and envelops his lecherous infatuation until the solid, throbbing outline of his yearning is fully visible, as he clearly wishes Elastigirl would do to him in a much less metaphorical way.

As a rule, any marriage in which one partner can willingly cry out to the other, "Trampoline me!," inspires only envy and awe. In the heat of the action, that is what Mr. Incredible says to Mrs. Incredible, in "Incredibles 2," and I’m disappointed to report that the action in question is merely the manic pursuit of a gigantic drill that is whirring through a crowded city and demolishing everything in its path, rather than a lazy afternoon in the marital boudoir with the door discreetly shut.

I honestly don't even know what he's fantasizing about here. Trampoline me? Does he know how trampolines work? Or more to the point, does he know how sex works? Even just sex on a trampoline would be mechanically frustrating, sex with a trampoline is practically a recipe for a broken dick. A male trampoline could stretch its member on each bounce to maintain contact like an astronaut tether, but a female trampoline? I don't understand the basic vision, but I do know that I wouldn't want to be a rubber band in the Lane household.

After a bunch of pseudo-intellectual blather which we'll delve into in a moment, he drops this gem:

Take your seat at any early-evening screening of "Incredibles 2" in the coming days, listen carefully, and you may just hear a shifty sound, as of parents squirming awkwardly beside their enraptured offspring. And why, kids? Because Mommy just leaned over to Daddy and whispered, "Is it just me, or does Mrs. Incredible kind of look like Anastasia in 'Fifty Shades of Grey?' You know, the girl in the Red Room, with the whips and all?" And Daddy just rested his cooling soda firmly in his lap and, like Mr. Incredible, tried very hard to think of algebra. As for how Daddy will react later on, during the scene in which Helen and the husky-voiced Evelyn unwind and simply talk, woman to woman, I hate to think, but watch out for flying popcorn.

Buddy, nobody but you is reminded of 50 Shades, and nobody else jammed a boner through their popcorn just because two women were talking on screen. Yes, Elastigirl is thick as hell, but there's something exceptionally perverse about specifically sexualizing a scene that passes the Bechdel test. "Oh god, two women, unaccompanied! Without Mr Incredible in the way, I could...." Well. No need to belabour what Lane wants to do any more than he already has.

If this weren't the New Yorker, I would've assumed this was written by a horned up 22-year-old. But it is, and Lane is the New Yorker's idea of a voice for young people: a 55-year-old man. Fifty-five is too old not to know that you don't post publicly about whacking it to a cartoon MILF. Hell, so is 41, which is how old he was when the first movie came out. In fact, what the New Yorker needs is an actual young person on staff to explain to naive seniors like Lane that you have to be careful what you put online, because that shit follows you--just ask Kurt "tentacle porn" Eichenwald. Should he get into any sort of online dustup in the future, he'd better be prepared to see photos of himself making out with a condom with Elastigirl's face on it.

If you've read previous review reviews you'll know that one of my pet peeves is giving away major plot points in a review. Lane not only walks us through most of the movie in excruciatingly loquacious detail, he also chucks in a spoiler for the end of the first Incredibles movie. Why? Does he have some piercing insight to justify the transgression? Only if you consider "it's cool when the audience knows stuff that the characters don't" nuanced erudition. No, just brought it up while labouriously recounting every major thing the baby does to explain how, to his horror, he "began to have doubts about the film." But after another paragraph of textual harassment, his doubts were assuaged. Well thank fucking God, that was a real emotional rollercoaster for a minute there. My doubts about his review, unfortunately, were only ever confirmed.

Anthony Lane is the answer to the question "What if a raving fanboi had an English degree?" He begins his review of Solo thusly:

It has been five whole months since the last "Star Wars" movie, and the wait has been intolerable. Our patience has been sorely tried, and to test it further would constitute a gross violation of our civil rights. No citizen should be denied his or her dose of galactic hyperdrive; curb that prerogative, and the Supreme Court would have something to say on the matter. Luckily, just as tempers were starting to flare, "Solo: A Star Wars Story" has arrived to save the day.

Great festering sarlacc shit, Batman! He may not talk about fucking Han Solo in that one but he sure as shit jerks off to it all over the page. Reading Lane's reviews feels like we're being conned, as if he analysed what they publish and figured out how to write in the style of a New Yorker article, and then ran his Reddit posts through a verbosifier. This is Ready Player One for people who collect hardcovers, just an agglomeration of allusions and references that the reader can feel clever for recognizing but which offer no true insight.

As part of a multi-paragraph screed about "what it would feel like to live inside an Alexander Calder mobile," Lane waxes poetic about the symbolism of the monorail. "The vision that they project, bright with kinetic wit, is also shaded, here and there, with historical regret. They show us what the past hoped the future might be." Sure, the train had two rails--mono means one--but why let a foundational misrepresentation get in the way of such an evocative turn of phrase? It wasn't a monorail, but just imagine what it would've meant if it had been! Ghosts of Frank Lloyd Wright, Cary Grant, and James Mason, you can see literally anything in this film if you look hard enough that you can't see what's actually on the screen.

Reading Lane's review offers a glimpse of what it would feel like to live inside a Robert Sabuda pop-up book: the complexity and sheer quantity of his rhetorical grandiloquence is superficially impressive, but any attempt to place even the slightest weight on it reveals that it's all paper-thin replicas of actual criticism that don't hold up.

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