My 10-year-old son begged to tag along with me when I screened the latest superhero film, the animated Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, but the movie’s showtime was way past his bedtime.
In hindsight, I wish we could have watched it together.
The PG film is mostly family-friendly, lacks the low-brow humor found in other superhero films, and has a few good messages, too. It’s also aimed squarely at my son’s tween/teen age group.
The story follows a high school student named Miles Morales who is struggling to fit in at school when he is bit by a radioactive spider — an action that changes his life. Miles soon begins crawling on walls and ceilings, and he’s faced with a series of questions that would stress out any teenager: How did he get these powers? Should he tell his parents? What will his friends think?
Then there is the obvious one: Doesn’t the world already have a Spider-Man? Well, yes, it does.
“How could there be two Spider-Men?” he asks.
But Miles’ world is about to grow even more confusing. That’s because there are at least five more Spider-Men — actually “Spider People” — who have come to 2018 America through a multiverse portal set up by the big villain known as Kingpin. Kingpin hopes to find his deceased wife and child, but in the process he wants to kill all the Spider People, too. That includes Peter B. Parker (not to be confused with the regular Peter Parker), Spider-Woman, the 1933 black-and-white Spider-Man Noir, an Asian anime Spider girl named Penni Parker, and a pig named Spider-Ham. If those Spider People stay in this universe too long, they’ll die.
Together, they help Miles learn to control his powers.
Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse succeeds because it’s entertaining, funny and doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s original and has the feel of a comic book come to life. It features frequent “quote balloons: — just like a comic book does. It gives us good-vs.-evil stare-down showdowns — just like a comic book does.
It has one coarse word (h-ll) and also plenty of violence — more than the Incredibles series but less than a live-action superhero film — yet that doesn’t distract from the film’s core messages of courage, self-sacrifice and family. Miles’ parents are role models for moms and dads. Even the villains have a warm spot in their heart for their own families. It also contains plenty of appropriate humor that everyone in the family can enjoy.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse may not be OK for small children, but for everyone else, it is likely worth watching. Next time, I’ll take my son.
Entertainment rating: 3 out of 5 stars. Family-friendly rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Rated PG for frenetic sequences of animated action violence, thematic elements, and mild language.