Story (from IMDb): Following the events of “Avengers: Endgame” (2019), Spider-Man must step up to take on new threats in a world that has changed forever.
Themes: finding one’s place and exploring what it looks like to grow into the shoes of your mentor.
Age Appropriateness: (Rated PG-13) Middle Childhood (7-10) and up [lighthearted with some violence and language. Movie deals with early teen romance with lots of talk and awkwardness about being near the one you “like,” hand-holding, first kisses, etc.].
MY TAKE: I thought “Spider-Man Far From Home” was great! While I liked “Spider-Man Homecoming,” that film definitely felt like a teen coming of age movie first and superhero film second. This second installment felt much more balanced to me. In fact, with the back and forth between action and Peter Parker teen drama, I seemed organized a little like a miniseries of 6 comics. While I felt the big bad guy reveal was a little clunky (an extended monologue all about “look what I doing” said only for the sake of us viewers), overall I felt myself having a really good time. When Peter was dealing with teenage stuff I was left wanting more and when Spider-Man did Spider-Man stuff I was left wanting more. Overall I thought the movie was well balanced.
(Small spoiler ahead)
As I watched this movie I was happily surprised with how well it displayed the teen romance between Peter Parker and Mary Jane. In the early 2000’s when I was a youth director, I remember reading a book by Chap Clark called, “Hurt: Inside the World of Today’s Teenagers.” Clark did research at Crescenta Valley High School in north Los Angeles County to explore what life was really like for the typical high school student. Clark’s book was challenging, arguing that we are created a difficult world for our teens. Movies, TV, and music often glorify the teen years and many adults end up trying to relive their own childhoods through their children and the children they work with. Youth are taught in many ways that their teenage years should be the best of their lives, but the adults in their lives abandon them to navigate those uncertain teen waters alone as the grown ups pursue their own interests.
Fortunately, I think some things have changed for the better in the last 12 years or so. But even still, when watching many high school students depicted on TV and in movies, there still seems to be many examples of teens navigating very adult/complex problems with absent or clueless parents, portrayed by actors who look way older than a teen.
And this goes back to how much I appreciated the relationship between Parker and Mary Jane. It was awkward. It was sweet. And even the “big” ending kiss looked a lot more like how one would expect a first kiss. The movie let the “kids” be kids. And for all Parker’s bravery and desire to do good, it was fun watching a high school do the kinds of things you would imagine an awkward and immature high schooler might do. If a fellow student gets a compromising picture of you and threatens to post it, what would you do? If you could, would you send a killer drone after them? I wouldn’t… but I totally bought the fact that Parker might. And when Parker and Mary Jane hold hands it seemed convincing that there would be much more nervousness showing than electricity. Maybe it was because “Avenger’s End Game” was so dark or maybe it’s because we live in a world full of sex, meanness, hurt, and brokenness (sin actually). Whatever the reason, watching “Far From Home” with my 12 year old just felt nice…