On the Town: Ant-Man and the Wasp

On The Town with Lonnie Adams

At what point does a joke become obnoxious? repetitive? It’s a problem I personally have with comedy that I can never quite grasp. If you do the same gag over and over, it loses some of its panache. The greats know that a key to comedy is timing. The right timing of a joke as well as the time spent on the joke. Is it too much build up for too little punch or, as previously stated, dogging the joke to the point of irritation?

I ask this question because of one character in this movie, Luis, played by Michael Peña. Almost the funniest part of the movie is a return of this character’s “stories.” It’s a fresh joke to me that I haven’t seen before in a movie, but I know all too well in my life. The guy whose stories are just something else. Ant-Man and the Wasp takes it so much further with the voiced-over scenes that are hilarious (understatement of the week).

But notice, I said almost the funniest part. There was a scene that I may not have laughed at as loudly, but I laughed inwardly and enjoyed even more. It made me see the film as a whole as a tray of several different types of humor. From a very surreal comedy of the action scenes like a car chase where cars and objects repeatedly change in size, to the anecdotal story comedy that Luis offers, to the physical and situational comedy that character Scott Lang, Paul Rudd, carries in spades.

Personally, I think we found better character development and a better plot in the original Ant-Man. that said, I can’t honestly say that its sequel loses because of this. The story is there, though it builds more off of Captain America: Civil War than it does on the original Ant-Man. And it just enough piecing together of its original film and the MCU as a whole to become a great connection point. However, I really believe the Ant-Man franchise is becoming more of Marvel’s intermission act than a mainstage film. Sure you really should see Civil War before you watch this movie, and as some have suggested, this film actually helps close up a couple questions from Civil War that really makes that a better movie for having watched the new Ant-Man.

Despite that, I can fully recommend this film to those who may not have seen Infiinty War yet. I would warn you not to watch the after credits scene, but the film itself doesn’t even need that movie. It’s like Scott Lang and Hank Pym are doing everything they possibly can to avoid an actual Avengers movie. Let’s be real, Captain America: Civil War was an Avengers movie, even if it wasn’t titled as such.

Ant-Man and the Wasp rekindles this path of the father/superhero Scott Lang who is living out the last days of a two-year house arrest sentence for helping Cap in Civil War. He hasn’t had real contact since then with his romantic interest Hope Van Dyne, Evangeline Lilly, or her father Hank Pym, Michael Douglas. With only days left in the sentence, something happens to reconnect these three as they search for Hope’s mother, Janet Van Dyne, Michelle Pfeiffer, who has been trapped in the quantum realm. Pay no attention to how someone could survive there for decades without food or water. Actually, the film tends to poke fun at itself in this pattern as well. You’ll notice a few quips here and there about the “science-y” stuff as the film asks you not to look too hard at the logic. But hey, we’re talking about superheros and magic and shrinking men, I think we’re all okay here with just looking past a few things that don’t make sense.

A great effort by the entire cast allows the movie to really shine as a whole rather than setting one actor or actress as particularly better than the others. The moments of innocence and emotion between Scott and his daughter or Scott and Hope balance the scales against ensemble action scenes or the funniest parts of the movie. Yes, I know I never told about the scene I liked more than Luis’ stories.

The funniest portions of this film all come from actors interactions. It never seemed to me that one person was the funniest character. Whether it was Scott asking a kidnapper to help him facetime his daughter or Scott’s tense moments with his almost-could-have-been mentor Hank Pym. The one scene I loved the most is such a scene when Scott’s suit malfunctions and leaves him… shall we say, “halfway” and in a very interesting location. He catches grief from Hope, of course, and the hilarity builds until he gets back to his getaway van where the scenes full punchline comes from the serious Hank Pym himself.

Despite all the comedy in all its forms, the film does lose something in cohesiveness as it progresses. The film almost seems to forget certain points at times, which may stem from its having several credited writers on the project. Still it all comes together in the end and collects its pieces into a finale. And again, you have so many talented actors and actresses that easily steal the scenes they are in, that you may not care. It becomes a bit of a non-sequitur as the scenes don’t always logically flow together, yet it still fits with a certain charisma.

The real question you’re going to have to ask yourself is if the lack of plot complexity and the incoherence of the scenes is really too bothersome to enjoy the comedy. Ant-Man and the Wasp is funnier than its original film, but less in terms of story. It’s lighter than most Marvel films, but disconnected. I won’t say every single joke works as some fell flat to me, but I still heard others in the theater giggle.

It’s funnier than Thor: Ragnarok, and more “aww”-inducing than a Guardians of the Galaxy movie. It’s a light-hearted comedy that defines an old adage but opting against it. Instead of the “Jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none,” it picked the charismatic comedy route and mastered it.

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