The texture of a superhero is the essence of decision making. The interesting progression of “Spiderman: Far From Home” operates in the realm of naivete. Having done interviews for the original Spiderman films from Sam Raimi but never really watching Andrew Garfield’s version, Tom Holland’s approach is one almost of innocent bewilderment which in turn gives him a sense of awe. One of the most affecting moments in an earlier “Avengers” film is when Holland looks at Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark as he is disappearing with a questioning line. But that establishes such a structure that perhaps earlier Spiderman films didn’t have: a connection to others and a larger world. This is likely what will fuel the Black Widow film with Scarlet Johannson since it will bring that essence of story and time to that film. Here the idiom that perpetrated the entire Sam Raimi film is pushed in the background but still rings clear: “with great power comes great responsibility. In trying not to give too much away, Tony Stark, not Iron Man, looms heavily over decisions here…and even perceptions. It is an interesting approach especially when decisions involve “Edith” and aspects of instinct and conscience.
The basic plot without giving too much away is that Peter Parker just wants to be a regular guy and go on a class trip to Europe to tell MJ (played by Zendaya) that he really likes her. While the banter between him and her and, by extension, his best friend and his perspective girlfriend for the trip works in a comic romantic comedy way, the stakes are not that thick, which is alright. The realization is that “Far From Home” nicely plays much lighter than, of course, the “Avengers” films which within their structure have a very dark core while still playing to mainstream structure. Here the threat is paradoxical in a way but one that is unexpected in one way but not in another. During an interview I did with Jake Gyllenhaal for “Stronger” a couple years back, he referenced that he always found it hard to play a superhero (and it seems he had been offered others) that weren’t real per se. That is why the progression here is an interesting exercise (which is all I can say). Any other discussions of heartbreak, destruction, expectation, subversion or transcendence will give away too much but the film does include all of these without becoming too, in a word, tragic. And that is a good thing. Especially when Jon Favreau can bring some fun comic relief without impacting or altering what the story is truly about.
By Tim Wassberg
The necessity of “I Love You Man”, which I did not see during its theatrical run, is that it takes an uncomfortable subject and literally makes it more uncomfortable. Now this is done in no way in part to the presence of Paul Rudd, who has become the unlikely anti-hero of the Judd Apatow sect. Now granted Seth Rogen has the underdog situation down pat but he has a brother-in-arms in the form of Jason Segel who takes on a much more engaging role than his feature starring debut in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”. The essence of the story revolves around the fact that Rudd’s character is getting married to a girl whom he seems good with but the odd thing is that he doesn’t have any guy friends. He has always related more to women. Now while usually when this happens, it simply speaks to a simple emotional situation of being only able to relate to one person at a time (the ability not to multi-task if you will), here it is played for laughs in the texture that Rudd’s character goes on “Man Dates” to find some guy friends.
All sorts of shenanigans ensue (including many involving Lou Ferrigno) but ultimately things work out nice and soft after much carnage including lewd billboards of Rudd’s real estate character. The comedy is brisk but is never as funny as it thinks it is. The girls in “Spring Breakdown” (in terms of a recent comparison) went much more out on a limb. But the key here is that the filmmakers are also trying to appeal to a female audience which this picture definitely admits to.
The commentary by Rudd, Segel and director John Hamburg is self reflexive in its ability even pointing to the fact that Rudd gave everyone gifts on set but Segel didn’t give him one back until months later. It was a good one though: a signed bass from rock band Rush who figures prominently into the movie’s storyline. As the commentary continues, the aspect of what their humor is actually becomes self effacing which at times sort of throws off the aspect of whether the comedy elements are thought out or even funny in the first place. The aspect of not being able to stop laughing when shooting does happen as the extra improvs later in the disc show. This team however seem to have played these element out to the point of beating a dead horse. However they seem to understand that the movie that they are making needs to be loose but still have its heart focused.
“The Making Of I Love You Man” paints in this direction as well. The self effacing humor plays through everyone, even J.K. Simmons who gets into a little bashing. Jon Favreau is the best because he is playing Mr. Big Shot which is not him in person truly. His fellow actors play up the whole “Iron Man” thing but Fav still plays his angle. In the Extras section with all the improv, it is actually his and Jamie Pressly’s pieces that are fun to watch because they are so cruel. He outpowers her to a point at which she just goes quiet and almost starts laughing. It is interesting.
Paul Rudd’s two improv heavy scenes: on the phone in the office and in bed with his fiance show the amount of different permeations the guy goes through when the thinking is steady. But it is the Vespa riding sequence, especially with the “Facts Of Life” theme song, that goes a little long. In terms of extended and deleted scenes, the “ladies night” piece gets in a tad more with how graphic the girls get but by comparison the Johnny Depp elements at the wedding go on way too long. The deleted scenes don’t really add anything to the mix although the groomsmen photos are amusing. However it slows down the story.
The red band trailer adds some bits and lets the “fucks” fly but it is Jon Favreau’s last line that isn’t in the movie that has the most punch. The gag reel is usually used for the wrap party and highlights the fact that Paul Rudd finds himself funny sometimes more than anyone else and likes to laugh although the rubbing scene in Segel’s apartment set is a little much. But that is the movie through and through. Out of 5, I give it a 2 1/2.