Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Fathers, Daughters, Ants, & Trainwrecks

 There's a new act under the tent holding the Marvel Cinematic Universe ("MCU") and Ant-Man is a worthy addition. While Ant-Man is a (let's face it) far less well-known character than Iron Man, Thor, or Hulk, he's been around since 1962, when he was introduced in Tales to Astonish #27. (There's actually a lovely shout-out to that title, if you listen carefully.) Now, the MCU has not been shy about tinkering with the backstories of their characters and I try not to get too incensed about that (Iron Man 3's complete mangling of the Mandarin character aside - Shane Black still owes me an apology fruit basket for that howling mess), but let's just get one thing straight. The original Ant-Man, along with Janet Van Dyne (Wasp), co-founded the Avengers, so he's a rather big deal. (The original Ant-Man, Hank Pym, is also frequently a terrible person in the comics. Let's leave it at that.) So for the movie version, the decision was made to focus on Scott Lang, who became the second Ant-Man. I've been fortunate enough to meet and correspond with the generous David Michelinie, who co-created Scott Lang with John Byrne in the late 70s, and I was glad to see his name in the film's credits. (Michelinie also created one of my all-time favorite storylines involving Tony Stark, which was carefully set up in the first two Iron Man films, only to be cast aside by the aforementioned Shane Black. Still waiting, apparently fruitlessly, for the also-aforementioned basket.)

But I don't want to catch up on years of back issues, you say. Fair enough. No need to - Ant-Man holds its own in the MCU and, as an extra treat, adds to the growing movie lore. There are several references to the events in Age of Ultron, which is fitting for the film that ends Phase 2 of the MCU. Again - watch carefully. Paul Rudd hits the right mix of funny and determined in Scott Lang, Michael Douglas carries off Hank Pym with aplomb, Evangeline Lilly nails Hope Van Dyne (although this certainly does seem to be the Summer of Women with Severe Haircuts), and Michael Pena steals Every Single Scene he appears in. It's a fun popcorn flick that also nudges the MCU along. And yes, there are "credit scenes" that you don't want to miss, so don't leave until you see the Teamsters logo.

While Ant-Man involves the often-complicated relationship between fathers and daughters (both Scott Lang and Hank Pym have issues with that), Trainwreck puts it front and center and is definitely for the adults in your movie-going group. Written by Amy Schumer and directed by Judd Apatow (his first film to direct without also writing), Trainwreck is a four-letter rom-com. While it's usual in that genre for the man to be a cad who is tamed by the Love of a Good Woman, Trainwreck shows the gentle, refined touch of a lady. Amy Schumer's lead character (also named Amy - her real-life sister's name, her father's name and struggle with multiple sclerosis are also based in reality, so the film has more than a passing personal touch for her) is not interested in anything more than a hook-up, until (per the formula) she meets The Right Guy, played here by Bill Hader.

Make no mistake - this Amy is a mess. She drinks too much, smokes too much pot, cusses too much, has a complicated relationship with her family, mocks commitment, is not exactly discerning about who she hooks up with, and is really just a mess. It's also ridiculously refreshing to see a woman who is independent (to a fault, true), successful, and shown to be comfortable with her appearance and her sexuality, even though she's not movie star thin. And it's a rom-com, so it all works out in the end. You'll develop a new appreciation for the physical exertion of professional cheerleaders, as well.

Plus - LeBron James is funny. Who knew? Then again, Schumer gave him fantastic lines to work with.

Please remember that you can keep up with the latest episode of Meet Me at the Movies (new episodes every Friday!) whenever you want through streaming! You can either subscribe to the show through Livestream, or simply go the the Cleveland Community College webpage, select C19TV at the top of the screen and select the show from the broadcast options. Tell your friends!

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