This is somewhat smaller, much less-ambitious successor to the “Guardians of the Galaxy” – a super-hero movie that never takes itself seriously, a film that seems to believe it’s not worth saving the world unless you can have a few laughs along the way. The effects are cheesy, the direction is loose, the writing is joke-infused, the casting is B-list, but it all comes together in a charming understated way to tell a story that’s often fun to watch because when given the choice between heroism and lunacy, it opts for lunacy. Every time. Those who live in the Marvel Cinematic Universe know that Ant-Man was a founding member of The Avengers and this is his first appearance on the big screen. Maybe he’s just not unique or interesting enough to be a primary character. And that’s understandable because it even takes a while for him to appear here; first we need to get the back-story on his creator, Dr. Pym (Michael Douglas) and then we need to watch the back-story on the young burglar, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) who will wear the Ant-Man suit.
And then we need to meet his family and his friends, and Dr. Pym’s daughter, Hope (Evangeline Lilly) and then… But all of that is OK because the backstories are more entertaining than the effects-driven main plot. Paul Rudd is an interesting choice for the hero role; he’s more the easily-distracted, drinking-buddy type, than a highly-focused super hero. Lilly is not quite sure what her relationship is with the male characters she plays against; the always-potentially-wonderful Judy Greer contributes nothing as Scott’s wife – and Bobby Cannavale is caught somewhere between stupid and slow. Michael Douglas adds gravity and a serious sense of focus to his role as Dr. Pym, but Corey Stoll’s Darren Cross is a fuming, foaming, one-dimensional duplicitous idiot. And yet, for all of its flaws, the humor helps this movie be at least marginally entertaining. If you like super hero movies willing to laugh at themselves, you will find enough to smile about in this one.