"Ant-Man and the Wasp" is a sip of espresso after a seven-course Marvel meal.
The heroes were MIA in the devastating "Avengers: Infinity War" -- this film is set in the days leading up to that film's seismic events -- so don't expect the narrative to push the grand Marvel Cinematic Universe saga in any meaningful way. The movie is akin to the last days of school after finals, when everyone is goofing around and having fun.
While nowhere near as funny as the no-holds barred "Deadpool 2," the lighter-toned, family-friendly "Ant-Man and the Wasp" swims in a flow of action-packed laughs in its own right. Paul Rudd's comedic stylings are in full force. The King of the Bromance is one of the more affable and effortlessly self-deprecating leading men around, and carries the film as he inhabits his goofy, size-changing hero.
Director Peyton Reed and his team of visual effects ninjas have fun messing around with scale, using a combination of practical and CGI effects to sketch out "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids"-style wonders. One moment, Ant-Man and the Wasp (Evangeline Lily) are zipping through the air like gnats, the next they are rolling through city streets in a Hot Wheels-style vehicle, and then one of them is a towering, Godzilla-like behemoth.
The possibilities of adjusting scale and perspective matches the wily narrative and dialogue, which bounce around on similarly wacky wavelengths. The 2015 "Ant-Man" film was a heist film, and the sequel more or less sticks to that path.
Due to the federal law-disrupting events of "Captain America: Civil War," Ant-Man finds himself under house arrest, juggling divorced dad responsibilities with demands of his estranged mentor (Michael Douglas), whose daughter is his sidekick/would-be love interest seeking to shrink down to the quantum realm to find her lost mother.
A criminal agency headed up by everpresent bad guy actor Walton Goggins has its own ideas for the size-changing technology, and they mess with Team Ant-Man's efforts, providing fodder for the heroes to beat up and mock.
The movie is a frenzied juggling act that mocks the silliness of the characters while earnestly following them along on their quest.
Unlike many of the core MCU films, you can skip this one without worrying about getting lost in the overarching story. But avoid it and you will lose out on big thrills and laughs from its miniscule heroes.
RATING: 3 stars out of 4.