REVIEW: Is ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ OK for young children?
Ant-Man and the Wasp is a fun superhero flick with a great message about parental love. But is it family-friendly?
Hope Van Dyne is a courageous and persistent young woman who would give anything to see her mom again.
More than two decades ago, her mom and dad left on a so-called “business trip,” placing her in the hands of a babysitter and promising to get back soon. Her dad returned home. Her mom didn’t. Hope – a little girl at the time – was traumatized.
She later learned that her parents were undercover superheroes/scientists with the uncanny ability to shrink to the size of tiny objects. Hope’s mom had died while dismantling a nuclear bomb, shrinking so small she couldn’t return to adult size. Her heroic action saved countless lives but left Hope’s father, Hank Pym, a widower. Or so he thought.
Hank now believes his wife still may be alive but at a subatomic level, where she has survived 20-plus years without anyone knowing. Hank even has built a machine that will take him to this “quantum” level so he and Hope – also known as the “Wasp” – can find her. First, though, they need help from an old friend, Scott Lang, who has similar abilities and is known as Ant-Man.
The Marvel movie Ant-Man and the Wasp (PG-13) opens this weekend, starring Evangeline Lilly (Ant-Man, The Hobbit series) as Hope Van Dyne/Wasp, Paul Rudd (Ant-Man) as Scott Lang/Ant-Man, Michael Douglas as Hank Pym, Michelle Pfeiffer as Hope’s mom, and Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix series) as Dr. Bill Foster.
The film is a sequel to 2015’s Ant-Man and also follows the story of Lang, who in the new film is under house arrest and wearing an ankle bracelet due to an international superhero incident. He’s also the father of an energetic 10-year-old girl who visits her father often – he’s divorced – and idolizes his every move.
Ant-Man and the Wasp is a fun superhero flick with a great message about parental love. Still, it contains enough violence and language that moviegoing moms and dads might be concerned.
Warning: minor/moderate spoilers!
(Scale key: Minimal, moderate, extreme)
Moderate. But typical for a Marvel film, with plenty of bloodless punching and kicking and a few car chase scenes, too. We also see gigantic (but friendly) bugs. The film’s most disturbing elements involve the villain, Ava/Ghost, whose power allows her to walk through walls. Significantly, though, she is trying to find a cure for this power, which causes physical pain. Some of her scenes are earie, such as when she tries to read minds.
Minimal. We see two brief kisses. The superhero suits are skin-tight. We see Lang without a shirt. When Lang and Foster trade stories about how many feet they grew during a superhero battle, Hope tells them to stop “comparing sizes.” During a dream scene, we see Lang making out with a woman (while standing up). Lang and Van Dyne have a budding romance.
Moderate/excessive. About 34 words: d—n (11), h-ll (8), OMG (5), s—t (2), a—(2), misuse of “God” (2), GD (1), SOB (1), misuse of “Jesus” (1), misuse of “Christ” (1). We also hear “screwed” and “jeez.”
Other Positive Elements
The father-daughter angle involving Lang and his girl is enjoyable – so much so that I could have watched a movie based on simply that. Even though he can’t leave his house, they devise numerous creative role-playing games. One even ends with a homemade slide. This tight bond, though, leads to both of them lying to the FBI.
Lessons on friendship, parenting, forgiveness, teamwork and self-sacrifice fill Ant-Man and the Wasp. The relationship between Lang and his daughter is worth emulating, as is Lang’s relationship with his ex-wife, Maggie, and her husband. They truly are friends. The good guys in the film – including Lang – have empathy for Ava/Ghost.
Finally, it’s worth discussing Hollywood’s first lead female superhero. Unlike Incredibles 2 – which had the female taking the lead in crime fighting – Ant-Man and the Wasp shows the male and female superheroes fighting side by side. Neither has a dominant role.
When, if ever, is it permissible to break the law to do good? Incredibles 2 raised that question this summer, and Ant-Man and the Wasp does the same. Lang begins the film on house arrest with an order never to leave the premises. He initially is kidnapped by Van Dyne/Wasp but then decides it is best to try to help her find her mom, even though he has concerns he will be locked up “forever.” He and his companions ensure that his ankle bracelet won’t show any illegal movement.
Another interesting angle is Ava/Ghost – a villain who elicits sympathy. Her current predicament and undesired superhero powers are due to actions taken by others, before she was an adult. For parents of children, it’s worth discussing: When are we responsible for our own actions?
The humor. It’s truly funny and (for the most part) doesn’t drag us in the gutter. Also, the CGI images and special effects are a delight – Lang transforming his body to the size of a child while in an elementary school and the Wasp driving a Matchbox-sized car through the city streets are just two examples of the movie’s highlights.
The quantum-driven science plot. It likely didn’t impact my enjoyment, but it’s confusing.
- Is it ever OK to lie? If so, when? Explain your answer.
- Is it ever OK to break the law? If so, when? Explain your answer.
- Describe Lang as a father. What did he do that’s worth emulating? What did he do that we shouldn’t emulate?
- Did you feel sorry for Ghost? Why or why not?
- What do you think about female superheroes?
Entertainment rating: 3 out of 5 stars. Family-friendly rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars.
Ant-Man and the Wasp is rated PG-13 for some sci-fi action violence.