WHAT'S IT ABOUT? A divorced father (and reforming ex-con) is recruited to pull a world-saving heist as a miniature superhero.
IS IT ANY GOOD? (GRADE: A-). About ten minutes into Ant-man you're going to notice something: this movie's really funny. In fact, I'd put it neck-in-neck with Guardians of the Galaxy as Marvel's wittiest and silliest film to date. In both cases, a lighter tone was a wise choice, as these heroes and their stories are the most bizarre, and therefore potentially difficult to swallow, of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As it is, Ant-man is breezy and amusing, and deserves to be lighting up the box office more than it is.
After the heavier tone of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and the convoluted stories of Guardians and Avengers: Age of Ultron (I loved all three, by the way), Ant-man is refreshingly straightforward and light-hearted. It also offers just enough creative action, thematic weight, and emotional realism to balance the humor. Paul Rudd has an everyman charm that serves him well here. He's lovable as a father trying to be a hero for his daughter; their relationship is the heart of the film.
Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lily provide fine supporting work. Michael Pena gets in zinger after zinger as a loveable criminal. The connective tissue with the rest of the Marvel heroes is present, but not heavy-handed. Corey Stoll intimidates as a rather one-note villain; his greed and quest for vengeance is cliched, but he gives it his best. All told, this is great fun.
(Order Ant-Man on Bluray or DVD here, or to stream/buy on Instant Video here).
CONTENT OVERVIEW: Ant-Man is rated PG-13. It has 3 or 4 s-words and 2-3 uses of "SOB," one use of the insult "p*ssy" and a few other mild profanities. A sidekick mentions "the first pair of boobs I ever touched" (the hero ignores him). There's is plenty of fighting, but none of it particularly harsh or brutal. The villain shrinks both another man and a sheep (separately), turning them into miniature piles of goo (killing them).
MESSAGES TO DISCUSS: You don't have to repeat past mistakes; you can choose to be better. Telling the truth can restore trust and heal relationships. Pride and greed can turn you into a monster. Step-families can be harmonious if all members can forgive and do what's best for the child(ren).
Like my work? Watch me on The KJZZ Movie Show, Sundays at noon and 10:00 pm on KJZZ-TV (UT), or watch full episodes here. My film guide, 250 Great Movies for Latter-day Families, is now available in paperback and Kindle. You can read all of my reviews at www.moviedad.com. Come meet me at this year's Salt-Lake Comic Con in September, where I'll be a panelist. Unlike actual celebrities, my photo ops are free!