Ant Man (a review)

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Paul Rudd and his dimples want to don a motorcycle suit and play superhero. Yeah, that’ll work, I thought with a ready batch of vitriol sliding around my tongue-in-cheek.

Thus, I went to Ant Man last night expecting a disaster…and was surprised. Not only was Ant Man not a disaster, it was actually a delight; easily becoming my favourite Marvel movie to date.

As my friends and I discussed over beers, Paul Rudd plays Paul Rudd. It is the only character he knows. The immensely likeable fuck-up doofus who somehow manages to do the right thing in the end. As such, Paul Rudd is perfectly suited to likeable fuck-up roles in movies like Our Idiot Brother (you’ll never guess which role he plays in this movie).

But a superhero? Really? I didn’t see it.

But it is the doofus that makes Ant Man work. And it is the doofus that makes this movie so approachable to a mass audience.

Sure, these are all comic book movies. You are asked to leave your credulity at the door as you make your way to your seats. These are gods, aliens, spirits and every once in a while humans with supernatural powers or genetic mutations.

Let’s face it. Tony Stark only gets to keep company with these guys because of his smarmy wit, which is his supernatural ability, brought to life deliciously by Robert Downey, Jr. The suit is just a nice-to-have.

How the hell did Paul Rudd and Ant Man get into this picture? Even the movie makes fun of the costumed crusader’s name.

Rudd manages to make Ant Man believable and by that, I mean both the character and the entire concept. The doofus brings a heart to this character, a grounded reality to this character that no one else has ever managed. He is what Peter Parker was supposed to be, but without all the angst.

Doofus as superhero? It works!

Doofus as superhero? It works!

You could have a beer with Ant Man, and that is why this movie will do incredibly well.

Ant Man is also amazingly funny, rife with jokes and awkward moments that completely work. Even a sourpuss like me was heard to laugh out loud on more than one occasion. Some of that comes down to Rudd’s timing, but no character is left without laughs. Everyone contributes in this movie.

Another factor is that you don’t have to be immersed in the Marvel universe to get this movie. You don’t have to have seen every predecessor movie to understand what is happening—see my previous thoughts on Age of Ultron. Only in a couple of places would that knowledge have made the joke better, but even there, the jokes worked.

The story is a comic book story, and so has the depth one might expect of something aimed at 10-year-olds, but again, that’s the kind of story in which a doofus revels. And unlike the other Marvel films, this adds a touch of Wile E. Coyote, just to keep it light.

My only other notes of…well…note: Michael Douglas is amazing; Evangeline Lilly is gorgeous and fun; and I have never wanted a pet ant more in my life.

Failure is not an option…it’s a skill

Fear-of-failure

I used to be terrified of failure. If I couldn’t know that I would succeed at something, I would put it off and potentially never do it.

And this was true in all aspects of life.

Driving. Dancing. Playing musical instruments. Talking to girls and later women. Athletics.

I became the best I could at one or two things—the things for which I seemed to have a natural aptitude—to avoid having to worry about being asked to do any of a thousand other things.

To me, failure was not an option. (I could spend months discussing why, but I won’t…at least, not here).

It has taken me a long time, but I have finally realized that I was only half right.

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Failure is not an option…it is an imperative.

It is a skill that I must practice time and time again in all aspects of life.

At its simplest, if I succeeded at everything to which I turned my hand, I would stop doing it.

I succeeded. I achieved my goal. What more could I hope to accomplish? Everything after that is pure redundancy and repetition.

When harnessed, however, failure and imperfection can be that thing that drives me forward, when purely creative urges do not.

ziglar

Failure is my teacher. Failure is my drill sergeant and mentor. And yes, failure can be my devil.

Perfection is an illusion and is therefore unattainable. This means that even at our zenith, we have failed. So what?

Even if we do not strive for perfection, but for an attainable, measurable goal, we are likely to fail if for no other reason than once we have achieved that goal, we instinctively move the goal posts. Our best is always a thing of the past and acts as a goad for us to do better.

Herein also lays the further challenge of failure in Art. There typically is no real metric other than external opinion. Rare is the individual who targets using 7.83% magenta in his next painting.

coyote

Wile E. Coyote is about the only artist I know who can actively test the realism of his Art. He has achieved his goal if the Roadrunner runs into the cliff wall painted to look like a tunnel. Ironically, his downfall was the hyperrealism he achieved such that the painting actually became a tunnel. In succeeding, he found failure.

Where I used to fear failure, I now embrace it. I use it to stretch myself and my skills. I use it as a lesson plan.

Failure-is-not-falling-down-but-refusing-to-get-up

But for this to work, I must envision failure as something internal and self-defined rather than something external and based on the opinions of others. There lies madness.

Yes, I rely on feedback garnered from others to determine my degree of success, but I do not allow others to define that success.

It is my Art. I define it and in doing so, define myself. And to do that, I must fail and fail again.

failure-and-success

(Images are property of owners and are used here without permission, which may be an epic failure on my part.)