Spider-Man: Homecoming ★★★★½

I'll be seeing this again within the week. This was the cutest, most delightful film I've ever had the pleasure of seeing in a theater, and several hours later, I'm still basking in how good it made me feel.

I've never read the comics, so I can't speak to how faithful of an adaptation this is, but this is undoubtedly my favorite characterization of Spider-Man. He's not the same boy we've seen before, and thank God for that. In the third incarnation of this character in the last two decades, there better be some significant changes to justify the existence of this reboot. I'm in love with this teenage boy who wants to take on more than he can handle, to skip all the baby steps and live his life to the fullest. There's this desire in youth to just skip a few years and grow up, to live this adult life of independence. For most people, this manifests in fantasies of living in your own place with a good job, but for Peter, it's being a fully-developed superhero. It's not that he craves power, but he wants to be challenged. He's a smart kid, and he hates to waste his potential. I'm so charmed by his pride in his moments of success, and I'm just as charmed by the vulnerability he shows when he fails. He's often immature and far too eager, but it's such a relatable feeling. I know most people love the conventional depiction of Peter Parker as a young man with wisdom beyond his years, but I'm a much bigger fan of teenage naivety.

I've seen a number of John Hughes comparisons with Homecoming, and perhaps that was an inspiration the filmmakers themselves have cited, but I found this to be much more contemporary. I don't watch much television these days, but I love my teen dramas with my entire heart. This film has the energy of an episode of One Tree Hill, even down to the style of dialogue and sense of humor. I typically can't stomach cringe-humor, but there's something about teenage awkwardness I can't get enough of. I laughed and gasped and screamed at so many points of this film, just as I do when I watch episodes of Degrassi: Next Class on my phone. All these kids make some weird choices, and the dialogue is not all all grounded in reality, but it's true to the emotion it gets across. This is teenage melodrama, and I fucking love it. It's not gritty, painful drama that the critics love, but it's an escapist drama that allows the viewer to relate without becoming bogged down in their own mind. I relate to Peter's desire to make better use of his time and his frustration in not living up to his potential, but it doesn't make me sad to think about. I was fully invested in Peter's success in this film, and despite it's predicability, it was no less satisfying. I love being on the edge of my seat, watching Peter struggle, even though I know he has to make it through. The stakes are low and the end result is obvious, but there's comfort in that. I can watch drama unfold while knowing that everything is okay, without having to be anxious. It's just so much fun, and I live for every second of it.

I thought this movie was absolutely hilarious, and despite what some of its critics say, I don't feel that any of the humor detracted from building characterization. I can understand preferring the darker superhero narratives, but that's not what Homecoming ever attempts to be. It's a fun, wholesome movie, so it better be serving me consistent jokes to keep me entertained. Both our hero and our villain are sufficiently developed and complex in my eyes, and while the other characters may not be riddled with pain or secrets, they're a hell of a lot of fun to watch. If the sense of humor here doesn't work for you, of course it won't be a great time. Personally, I laughed in nearly every scene that warranted it. Everything from the awkward high school newscasters to the adorable vlog that opens the film hit the nail right on the head for me. Once again, this feels just like something out of the teenage dramas I've loved for years, with the added superhero element that fits in perfectly with teenage questions of identity and purpose. It elevates this conventional coming-of-age narrative into the realm of fantasy, and I thought it was brilliant.

There's no point with me continuing this review, when all I'm really saying here is that this played right into my interests and I thought it was absolutely precious. It easily has the cleanest and tightest narrative of any of the previous Spider-Man movies, with no unnecessary subplots or twists. Predicability can be boring when it fails to entertain, but it can also be infinitely comforting. This was the perfect film to see on my birthday, specifically with the high school friends I've known and loved for years. I love tension and high-stakes drama, but sometimes, it's just nice to watch a movie and feel good about yourself. God, I loved this.

Rating: 90/100

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