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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Ant-Man is a Marvel Studios/Disney superhero film (based on a Stan Lee comic) that's tied into the rest of the "Marvel-verse." While audiences familiar with Avengers-related movies will have an advantage, it's not necessary to be a Marvel fan to enjoy the film, which stars Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas. There's definitely plenty of action/sci-fi violence -- from fist fights to shoot-outs to a few gory deaths in which the human (or animal) victim turns into gelatinous goo -- but overall this adventure is on the tamer end of the Marvel movie scale. Occasional bursts of language (mostly "s--t," "ass," and "damn") are peppered throughout the dialogue, and there are a couple of suggestive jokes/references, but there's only one (brief) kissing scene and very little drinking. The hero and his young daughter are sometimes separated, which could upset younger kids, but she's never in extended peril. Like Guardians of the Galaxy, this action adventure is full of humor, with some edgy jokes that will go over younger kids' head.
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What's the story?
In ANT-MAN, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is a Robin Hood-like burglar who's just been released from San Quentin prison. With few legitimate prospects and a young daughter and ex-wife to pay child support to, Scott agrees to go in on a heist with his former cell-mate, Luis (Michael Peña), and two other pals to rob a rich old man's safe. The target turns out to be Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), who set up the robbery opportunity to recruit Scott as the new Ant-Man -- a suit-wearing superhero who can shrink down to the size of an ant and also communicate with insects to make them do his bidding. Hank and his skeptical daughter, Hope (Evangeline Lilly), want Scott to help them keep megalomaniacal Dr. Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) from perfecting his own Ant-Man-like suit -- which he wants to sell as a military weapon to the highest bidder.
Is it any good?
The Marvel Universe's story about a tiny but fierce hero is also its funniest. As always, Rudd is a natural with sarcasm and one-liners, playing off of a hilarious Peña as Scott's prison bestie Luis and enjoying an easy mentor-mentee rapport with Douglas' Hank Pym. As Cross points out, Hank and Scott have a lot in common -- particularly as fathers with a an obvious need to protect their daughters. The bantery chemistry between Scott and Hope is a predictable "opposites attract" storyline, but Hope is one of the most interesting Marvel women to date because she's clearly itching for a chance to put on an ant suit and get things done.
Cross is the standard emotionally fragile, egomaniacal villain with extreme daddy issues. Stoll seems to be making a name for himself as a baddie, and he's well able to play a man who simultaneously hates Pym and desperately seeks his approval. The plot and the explanations of how the Ant-Man suit works can get a bit convoluted, but the action sequences and humorous dialogue (much of which sounds like it came straight from Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish, two of the five screenwriters) make up for the occasional plot holes. Bottom line? There's a lot to enjoy or laugh out loud about in Ant-Man, and Rudd is so charming and so easy to invest in as a viewer that it's only natural to hope for a sequel that puts him in touch with more of the other Avengers.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the popularity of Marvel movies. Why do you think these comic books have turned into such well-received movies? Are all movies inspired by comic books created equal? Does Ant-Man stand out? How?
What do you think about the way that superhero movies portray violence? Does any of it seem realistic? Is it intended to? Does it glorify fighting? Does exposure to violent movies make kids more aggressive?
How does Ant-Man compare to other superheroes? Is he more like Iron Man, because of the suit, or like Spider-Man, because he has affinity with and traits of another species? How is he unique?
Ant-Man isn't a natural hero; Scott has a criminal past and a spotty record. How does he live up to his daughter's expectations? How does his past help him as a hero?
- In theaters: July 17, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: December 8, 2015
- Cast: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll
- Director: Peyton Reed
- Studio: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Superheroes
- Character Strengths: Courage, Teamwork
- Run time: 117 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sci-fi action violence
- Awards/Honors: Common Sense Seal
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.