The best way to enjoy Spider-Man: Far from Home is to embrace your inner 12-year-old. Once I did that, and realized that the tone of this movie is completely different from Avengers: Endgame, I had a good time with it. Tom Holland is thoroughly likable as Peter Parker, who’s more concerned with expressing his feelings for classmate MJ (the equally enjoyable Zendaya) than he is with saving the world. It’s easy to relate to this character and his identity crisis. Peter is a normal kid facing all the pressures and problems any high-schooler would; the only difference is that he’s been blessed (or cursed) with superpowers.
It may sound odd to describe a film filled with overpowering action scenes and a maniacal villain as lighthearted, but that’s the trick that director Jon Watts and writers Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers have pulled off, just as they did with the previous series entry, Spider-man: Homecoming. They’re comfortable with their characters and invite us to have fun with them, even while placing them in peril. They go so far as to gently mock Samuel L. Jackson’s super-serious Nick Fury and make him an element of comedy relief. They also make great use of Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan, who’s as protective of Peter as he was when he worked for Tony Stark.
The bedrock of Far from Home is a teenage boy’s crush and the adventures he shares with his classmates on a field trip to Europe, chaperoned by two nervous teachers (Martin Starr and J.B. Smoove). Zendaya plays MJ as a savvy girl who likes Peter as much as he does her, but shares his hesitancy in solidifying their relationship. Incidentally (or not so incidentally) the cast of this film is a kind of rainbow coalition that ticks every racial and ethnic box without ever remarking on it, a typically canny Marvel move.
As you’d expect, the visual effects on display here are impressive–and at times overwhelming. They are tied to a storyline that is more complicated than it really needs to be, but that’s become another Marvel m.o. and fans don’t seem to mind. The bottom line is that Spider-man: Far From Home is entertaining and perfectly attuned to an adolescent audience, as well as the young-at-heart.