Ruddtrospective #19: Tiny Justice

Spoilers for the movie Ant-Man! I’m finally covering one of the Marvel movies! Although if you’re reading this you’ve probably seen it already.

Ant-Man stars Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Corey Stoll, Michael Peña, David Dastmalchian, T.I., Bobby Cannavale, Judy Greer, and Abby Ryder Fortson. The cast also features Anthony Mackie, Hayley Atwell, John Slattery, Martin Donovan, Wood Harris, Gregg Turkington, Garrett Morris, and Stan Lee. The script was written by Paul Rudd, Joe Cornish, and Adam McKay. Edgar Wright also contributed to the script a little, and I’ll get into why that is later. And it was directed by Peyton Reed, who was not a stranger to the superhero genre at this point, having previously directed two of the most beloved superhero movies of all time: Yes Man and Bring It On.

I’m not known for having the best memory, but this is probably the first time I saw Paul Rudd in something. Or at the very least it’s the first time I can remember seeing him in something. I’d probably seen a few F.R.I.E.N.D.S re-runs with him in them. And I would have seen Monsters vs Aliens and Night at the Museum by that point too, but he’s barely in those. I’m not looking forward to revisiting those. But it’s not like I would have had many other chances to fall in love with him at that point because the majority of his movies are not kid-friendly. A couple of his movies shouldn’t be watched by anyone, regardless of age. Specifically The Oh In Ohio is not suitable for human consumption. I don’t actually remember the exact point in time when my obsession with him first manifested. According to IMDb it wasn’t until late 2019, which feels incorrect? That isn’t that long ago. But I guess that would’ve been around the time that Living With Yourself came out, so it makes sense. The point I’m trying to make is that it took a little while for me to realize how much I liked Paul Rudd, but even back then I thought he was good in this. I’m sure I don’t need to explain the plot, but I might as well just in case. And then from there I’ll talk about behind the scenes stuff and some of my thoughts and favorite moments.

Ant-Man is about a down on his luck convict named Scott Lang(Paul Rudd) who is released from prison at the beginning of the movie and has to figure out how to get enough money so his ex-wife(Judy Greer) will let him see his daughter again. He moves in with his former cellmate Luis(Michael Peña) and gets a job at Baskin-Robbins. Luis and his friends, Kurt(David Dastmalchian) and Dave(T.I.) are determined to get Scott to relapse and start robbing again, but Scott insists that his “days of breaking into places and stealing shit are done.” It doesn’t take long for Baskin-Robbins to figure out that Scott is an ex-con, and fires him immediately(In a great scene we’ll talk about later). Fueled by his desire to see his daughter again and his inability to make money, Scott decides to go in for one last job.
Unbeknownst to Scott and Luis, this “last job” has been carefully orchestrated by someone who needs Scott’s help. This mysterious individual is Hank Pym(Michael Douglas), a brilliant(yet arrogant) physicist, entomologist, engineer and former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. Hank needs someone expendable to help him stop his former protégé, Darren Cross(Corey Stoll), from sending an army of tiny assassins known as Yellowjackets out into the world. Hank tricks Scott into breaking into his house and stealing the Ant-Man suit, which Hank used to wear during the Cold War. With the help of Hank’s daughter Hope, as well as Luis, Kurt, and Dave, Scott and Hank enact a plan to steal the suit from Cross. Unfortunately, Hope has a lapse in judgement towards the beginning of the film, as her relationship with her father is very estranged. It’s revealed that Hank’s wife Janet “died” by going subatomic while on a mission with Hank back in the 70’s, but it took years for Hank to tell Hope the truth.
Oh, and at one point Scott needs to get a part for the heist from what Hank believes to be a run-down Stark facility. But it ends up being the Avengers facility, where Ant-Man ends up having to fight Falcon. And that’s a pretty cool scene. Anyway, the heist happens and Darren Cross puts on the Yellowjacket suit and the two of them fight and Darren dies in a classically vague villain death way. And the reveal at the end is that Falcon is looking for Scott to help him and Steve Rogers with something.

Okay, that’s the plot. Now I’m gonna split the rest of this into sections so I can cover individual things I want to talk about in a clear way. I don’t know why I’m going out of my way to explain this.

Behind The Scenes
I think it was when Marvel Studios were planning their original slate of films that they brought Edgar Wright on board to direct this film. Which is a great get, because Edgar Wright makes exclusively great movies. But eventually the direction the Marvel universe was going diverged from the more independent and presumably better take Edgar Wright had in mind. So Peyton Reed was brought in to take over, with a few story elements that Edgar Wright had already written making their way to the final product. Edgar Wright hasn’t really said much about the process in general, but he has said that the thing he’s most proud of adding to the film is the casting of Paul Rudd.

Score and Cinematography –
The score is incredible, super jazzy and fun and just a delight. It really enhances the fun heist plot. The cinematography and set design are also amazing. It’s a very dirty-looking film, and the effects they use whenever Ant-Man shrinks are so damn cool. It’s like his body is echoing as he shrinks.

Funny Bits –
You can tell that the people who wrote this have made comedies before. It doesn’t matter if this is a terrible superhero movie, and for the record, it isn’t, because it’s a very very funny movie. There’s a bit early on where Luis picks Scott up from prison, and he says this:

SCOTT: “How’s your girl, man?”
LUIS: “Oh, she left me. And my mom died, too. And my dad got deported. But I got the van!!!”

Michael Peña’s delivery is fantastic and hilarious. There are lots of great interactions between him and Kurt and Dave. Also there are a lot of great scenes of Michael Peña telling overly long stories. Oh, and Michael Douglas is really funny too.

Action Sequences –
They really went out of their way to make use of what a tiny superhero battle would be like. The fight scene with the Thomas the Tank Engine is hilarious and perfectly timed. And the bit where he runs through the building model while getting shot at is also really cool.

I have a lot less to say than I thought I would, but it’s just a good movie that I really like. You’ve probably seen it already, but if you haven’t you should.

Overall Rating: 8/10(There are a few generic superhero origin movie moments in this that I don’t love, and the plot is basically Iron Man again. But if I’m being honest, I don’t think Iron Man is the best. It’s fine, but it isn’t as amazing as everyone else says.)
Rudd Rating: 9.5/10(This is Paul Rudd at his absolute best. He’s charming and affable, and it really is perfect casting. I’m so glad they picked him. I will say that they could let him improvise a little more and give him more jokes in general. At times he gets overshadowed a little bit.

So, that was Ant-Man! It’ll probably be a bit until I cover another Marvel movie, but next week will be my twentieth Ruddtrospective. In order to celebrate I plan to review the Paul Rudd movie that somehow topped The Oh In Ohio in terms of weirdness: Gen-Y Cops!!!

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