Spider-Man: Homecoming ★★★

When you cut through all of the spandex and special effects, superhero movies are really just high school movies with bigger muscles, bigger budgets, and bigger constraints. Indeed, the best moments in the giddy, fitfully entertaining “Spider-Man: Homecoming” are the ones that gleefully conflate the likes of Stan Lee and John Hughes, delighting in the extent to which both of their signature genres tend to revolve around emotionally unsure young people who are struggling to juggle their double lives.

“Homecoming” takes Peter Parker all the way back to his sophomore year, (re)re-introducing the endlessly rebootable web-slinger (a wide-eyed and overeager Tom Holland) as a 15-year-old pipsqueak who splits his time between anchoring the the academic decathlon team and auditioning to be an Avenger. The Queens sophomore can barely bring himself to talk to the girl he likes (Laura Harrier as Liz), but once he puts on his signature red and blue suit he’s suddenly endowed with the confidence to fight crime (even if he’s not very good at it) and flirt with death. Should he show up to the big party as the scrawniest nobody in his class, or should he swing in as the friendly neighborhood superhero who Liz naturally has a crush on? Should he stay at the inevitable homecoming dance, or does all that power and responsibility mean that he has to leave his date in the lurch to go save the city?

When “Homecoming” works, it does so by borrowing more from the likes of “Sixteen Candles” and “Just One of the Guys” than it does “Iron Man” or any of the other 412 previous installments of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It works by repurposing all that superhero stuff as a shiny new backdrop for the timeless dilemma of adolescence: How do you reconcile the person you are with the person you pretend to be?

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