The Onion Film Standard, the ongoing series of movie reviews from the internet’s preeminent source for news satire, isn’t like other criticism shows. But the section’s “Spider-Man: Homecoming” puts some effort into looking a bit more like some of them.
Delivered with the straightforward production value of previous installments like “Sully” and “La La Land,” in-house critic Peter K. Rosenthal’s opinions of the latest Marvel movie revolve around Peter Parker as an unexpected object of desire.
The male-dominated field of film criticism certainly has a history of backlash over ogling starlets, and “The Film Standard” seems to be turning that trend on its ear. Rosenthal never addresses “Spider-Man” star Tom Holland by name, directing all of his lusty language specifically toward Peter Parker as a character. (It’s safe to assume that this is the only “Spider-Man: Homecoming” review to use the term “spider-minx.”)
Though “Film Standard” is a pretty reliable source of laughs, this is one of the first times that its absurd setup touches on something topical. As the first superhero franchise film since the controversy surrounding David Edelstein’s “Wonder Woman” reviews, “Spider-Man: Homecoming” was the ideal opportunity to switch up expectations and direct some of that same (admittedly fake) objectification towards a male movie star.
Beyond the amount of work that goes into each individual installment, the team behind “Film Standard” is building up a long-running tragic backstory for the man in front of the camera.
This isn’t the first time that Rosenthal (played by actor Ron E. Rains) has let his personal life seep into a review. His “Fifty Shades of Grey” reaction made clear his past experiences in the world of BDSM. “Gone Girl” became an existential exercise in artistic empathy. And who could forget his delightfully aggressive “Is this all ya got?” challenge to movie studios in his “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” review?
Delivered in the same plain, off-center-framed style every time, Rains’ portrayal of Rosenthal as a frustrated, misunderstood cultural gatekeeper is understated bliss. Given how his “Rogue One” recap showed instead a deep appreciation for the world of jigsaw puzzles and official movie merchandising, perhaps he’s simply in the wrong line of work.
Nevertheless, we eagerly await his views on “The Emoji Movie.”