MV5BMjM2NTQ5Mzc2M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTcxMDI2NTE@._V1_SX640_SY720_By Jarrod Jones. Peyton Reed’s Ant-Man is a nice tall glass of ice cold chocolate milk. It’s sweet like it’s supposed to be, harmless in small doses, and it leaves you about as quickly.

That is to say, there’s nothing exceptionally bad about Ant-Man. It operates quite like it’s supposed to, that being a pleasant, uninvolving detour in between Marvel Studios’ increasingly out-there Avengers movies. It’s a perfectly acceptable franchise starter and an appropriately flashy vehicle for aspiring leading man Paul Rudd, and both the film and the actor work overtime to make sure neither rock the boat. What I’m trying to say is, Ant-Man is like a weekend with your grandparents.

It parades all sorts of familiar faces across the screen to remind you that Marvel Studios still holds all the clout (it seems that The Marvel Movie has replaced The Woody Allen Movie in roping in the Name talent): dramatic actors like Corey Stoll and Michael Peña pop in for their inevitable Disney dalliance, while Michael Douglas (of all people) slides into the role of elder statesman with little fuss. (Though the film does provide us with gleeful moments that prove the 70 year-old Douglas can still bloody a nose. Ah, we’ve missed you.)

The biggest comparisons drawn from Ant-Man are to Jon Favreau’s Iron Man, only it’s nowhere near as exciting or ambitious, and it has a leading man that doesn’t so much dominate the feature as he gets swallowed whole by it. As Scott Lang, Rudd is a between-prisons master thief with a heart of gold, a wholesome rogue who knows how to take a punch but can still remember to buy dolls for his stupid-cute daughter (Abby Ryder Fortson). Rudd’s success at comedy has always benefited from an underlying mischief — something that ought to lend itself beautifully to this role, especially when his name is on the screenwriting credits — but, no. Rudd arrives to the Marvel Cinematic Universe only to disappear. (The studio even hedged their bets by sending in a bonafide Avenger to make sure he doesn’t louse things up.)

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There are glimmers of the movie Edgar Wright might have made here (he was famously booted off the film when Marvel realized they would actually have to make it), brief flashes of cerebral doom that betray what this franchise commercial tries to obscure with its basic-ass Disney safeness: Scott shrinks into an all-encompassing subatomic oblivion that has shades of Kubrick to it, Stoll’s supervillain can’t help but turn living things into tiny piles of fleshy goo, and Adult Swim player Gregg Turkington turns up for a sardonic cameo that’s funnier than the whole movie put together. But whatever flashes of brilliance that came from Wright and Joe Cornish’s original screenplay has been retrofitted for maximum blandness. What I’m getting at here is that Ant-Man is about as tantalizing as marinated tofu.

The only time Ant-Man stands out from its Avengers brethren is when it makes bold attempts to innovate. While these moments do come from its hero, Rudd has very, very little to do with any of it: Ant-Man shrinks to pal around with his antennaed namesakes, tosses himself around the nozzle of a firing weapon, and socks his lethal foe around a Thomas the Tank Engine playset, but the energy that comes off of it is informed by shrewd digital work and uncanny storyboarding. When Tony Stark sailed through the Manhattan skies to jam a nuclear warhead into the collective ass of an alien horde, we at least got a smooch-ably close look at Robert Downey, Jr.’s scruffy mug. Here, Rudd’s boyish charms are lost in a swarm of pests.