STARRING: Nicolas Cage, Aaron Johnson, Lyndsy Fonseca, Mark Strong, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Chloe Moretz

2010, 117 Minutes, Directed by:
Matthew Vaughn

Why are there no superheroes in real life?

Probably because in real life gamma radiation won’t turn you into Mr. Fantastic, but will give you cancer instead. Because you’d get your ass whupped real good if you went about in an S&M suit trying to stop muggers . . .

This is what teenager Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) – comic book fan and chronic masturbator – discovers when he mail orders a gimp suit over the Internet and strolls around at night trying to fight crime with no real superpowers of any sort.

One night Dave (or Kick-Ass as he calls himself – all the good names were already taken) however inadvertently rescues a young man from some nasty street toughs and becomes an instant Internet celeb when some nearby diners record the whole thing on their cell phones and put the video on YouTube (natch). Soon his life however becomes more complicated as some gangsters mistake him for a “real” superhero team, Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz) and her father, Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage).

We never thought that we would say this about a movie: but Kick-Ass is too violent . . .

After all, we laughed as loud as the guy sitting in the next seat when the boardroom demonstration of the Enforcement Droid Series ED-209 went horribly awry, or when ‘toons dropped a piano on Bob Hoskins’ partner in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? And make no mistake: the action sequences in Kick-Ass are thrillingly well done and exciting to watch.

Our problem isn’t with the violence per se (we’re about as desensitized as the guy in the next seat – unless he happens to be Hannibal Lecter of course). Our problem is that the violence in Kick-Ass seems out of place, as if it belonged in a different movie altogether. The net effect is like watching Superhero Movie (one of those silly movie spoofs) interspliced with the most violent bits of Watchmen.

"It's all fun and games until someone gets microwaved alive . . ."

Kick-Ass never settles on a consistent tone.

On the one hand it has “superheroes” prancing about in deliberately campy costumes and poking fun at flicks such as Spider-man and The Dark Knight. On the other hand it has all kinds of ultraviolence with limbs being hacked off and so forth. It is as if the movie producers thought: “There must be some ultraviolence in this; otherwise, the teenaged boys who are going to watch this won’t think it is hip. Besides, all the little sociopaths do nowadays is play antisocial games such as Grand Theft Auto and endlessly rewatch those SAW movies!”

Complaining about the violence makes us feel like someone’s mother. It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye. [SPOILER ALERT!] It’s fun until someone gets stabbed and run over by a car. It’s fun until someone gets microwaved alive. It’s fun until a little girl has to helplessly watch her daddy burn to death right in front of her (albeit in some seriously fake looking CG flames). Call us prudes, but there is something uncomfortable about when a grown man viciously beats up an eleven-year-old girl, even if she supposedly knows kung fu and wears a purple wig. (Teenage audiences who don’t have kids yet probably won’t be bothered.)

Take the scene in which our “hero” takes on his first duo of criminals: predictably he gets his ass kicked. It’s a delicious dig at superhero conventions and the scene is funny until he gets stabbed. This is a pattern throughout the whole movie. [END SPOILERS!]

Realistic violence keeps on intruding on the comedy aspects and places a damper on onscreen proceedings. But it’s in the original Mark Millar (Wanted) comics, I hear you yell. It’s however for this same reason that we didn’t really like the comics either to be honest . . .

The violence really serves no purpose and spoils what would otherwise have been a really fun and entertaining movie. As far as creative missteps go, it’s a doozy. Kick-Ass isn’t a complete waste of time. There is much to appreciate (especially for teenagers and comic book fans), but it could have been so much better.

(By the way, the Kick-Ass character has a page on MySpace. We weren’t aware that anyone still had a page on MySpace.)



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