-- Harry and Peter watch a bit of Entourage, then decide to hug it out.
-- Peter goes Emo and experiments with fringe and eyeliner.
-- The Sandman. SNOOZE.
If you're one to be swept away by nostalgia, then the opening credits are for you. We're taken on a jaunty swing down Memory Lane as bits of the first two movies unfurl: The aftermath of the spiderbite (A.K.A. Peter The Bod), Green Goblin biting it, the Doc-Ock fiasco and M.J., starring as The Runaway Bride. Alas, things seem to shift downhill from here.
We're lulled into a quiet, nearly insignificant beginning as Tobey Maguire starts in with the blandest (and least necessary) of narration. New York billboards and newspaper stands are bombarded with Spidey promos. Peter, a bully's wetdream, plugs on nerdily in school. M.J. seems to have snagged herself a role meatier than playing the understudy. Of all this, we could glean sans the warbly recitation. Thankfully, we are left to contemplate Harry who, unseen at M.J.'s premiere, fixes a deliciously sinister glare at Peter.
The Spider-Man franchise has steadily introduced what I liken to Money Shots, a climatic (no pun intended) moment in the movie from which you can take a snapshot; the stuff gorgeous posters are made of. In the first installment, it was the Upside-Down in the Rain Kiss (which we later learn nearly snuffed Tobey). It's sequel rendered the arresting Full-Body Train Derailment Rescue. Now, Moonlit Kiss on a Canopy of Web, which achieves what it's supposed to, but not so amazingly as it's been regurgitated in the press the three months past.
Unbeknownst to Peter and M.J., who collapse into a modest lip-lock, a smoldering chunk of meteor crashes within yards of Pete's vespa and emits a creepy tar-like goo. The gunk, which looks like liquid and rubber, slither-crawls steathly towards the bike just as the moony-eyed couple descend the web and call it a night. It attaches itself to the license plate just as they putter away.
Here we insert Aunt May for the Obligatory Scene of Character ReIntroduction and Continuity. Peter announces to her that he's going to pop the Big Q to M.J. Oddly enuf, probably the fuzziest moment of the movie feels somewhat stilted. Aunt May immediately spins some yarn about her proposal, which ends in a tear being jerked for good ole Ben. She then plops her own ring into her nephew's palm, and anybody who knows the cunning of camera angles knows this is a promise of bad things to come.
From here on out, the movie rolls along with some speed. Pete and Harry tangle in a dizzying (nauseating) aray of special effects, in which the young Osborn proves as wily as a cat with at least thirteen lives. The storyline of escaped convict Flint Marko flags along with all the inspiration of a wet noodle. Gwen Stacy, Peter's classmate and daughter of police captain, makes nearly plunging to ones death look gorgeous. Edward Brock, Jr. shows up as Peter's job competition and just in time to be an all-around dick.
Probably the more entertaining moments happen just as Peter's life in going into the dumps. Attempting to make a memorable proposal to M.J., he and the pompous staff at a French restaurant do a bit of comedic juggling. There's some seriously bad dancing involving omelets and the Twist. Peter (and Tobey alike) comes as close as he possibly dares to being -- dare I say? -- sorta-kinda...hot(??)
CHEERS to the following
* Running gags: The Bugle's ever-sassy assistant Betty and the nerve-jangling buzzer. The steady disintergration of Peter's apartment door. Ursula, the manager's daughter = BEST FANGIRL EVUH.
* Harry Post-Accident: He was by turns adorably disarming as he contiuously stole the scenes. He was already made easy on the eyes, but who knew he had such a killer smile?
* The Saturday Night Fever Segue: Not so much a Cheer, but a chortle. (Yes, even a sista was checking Peter out; he promptly rewarded himself with a bit of whiplash). Here, Tobey hits the Dork Trifecta. It was Stefan meets Steve Urkell with a twist.
* The Jazz Bar Dance Sequence: It had the oddest flavor of Six Feet Under. Admittedly, there is something wildly fascinating (sexy) watching Peter girate. Of course, we gotta take some points for him snapping his jacket at M.J.'s face. But then we gotta give 'em right back for the way the wiry little dude handled those hulking bouncers.
* Emo!Peter: With the darkening mood, came the hooded eyes and darker coif. The way he casually pimped the overeager Ursula was a nod to guilty indulgence. I'm only surprised he didn't end the order for cookies (with nuts) with, "Thanks, toots," and a slap on her ass.
* The underdevelopment of M.J.: She's still languishing as the same struggling chorus girl sans the highschool hotness. It's exciting the first few times around she's the damsel in distress. By the 88th time around...
* CGI: The murderer of character-driven plot.
* Peter's apartment: That goo couldn't have been the only thing creeping around the place.
* Flint Marko: What? WHO? (Yes, I am familiar with the comic. No, I didn't care then).
* Tobey Maguire: When he wasn't Emo!Peter. Because his eyes constantly welled with tears, reminding me of Frodo. Because his Peter just let M.J. walk away without a fight.
* Total Recall!Harry: Post-Accident!Harry was in like Flynn with M.J. and he wasn't even trying. Wouldn't it have been tastier if we'd had no clue that he'd recovered his memory til that moment Peter caught that wink(!) Harry tipped him from the coffeeshop.
* Bernard: Dude, couldn't you have let Harry in on exactly how his father ate it a bit sooner? Seriously.