Saturday, April 17, 2010 6:11 PM By Simon

(yes, another Kick-Ass review, tough shit)

Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) is an ordinary teenager, obsessed with girls and comic books. One day, after he and his friend are mugged for the umpteenth time, he orders a scuba suit from Amazon, arms himself with what looks like a cricket bat, and dubs himself Kick-Ass. His first outing as a real-like superhero, however, lands him a beating, a knife to the gut, and a trip to the hospital. In the ambulance, he asks the medic to say he was found naked, leading to rumors that he is gay (which is an interesting conclusion to jump to, frankly), and the attention of his crush Katie (Lyndsey Fonseca), who longs for a gay BFF. Okay?

After a successful rescue of some guy from a bunch of dudes in a parking lot, he becomes a Youtube sensation, and spawns a dozen impersonators and fellow costume-wearing heroes. The best, and most psychotic of them, is the father-daughter team of Big Daddy (Nicholas Cage, at his Adam West-iest) and Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz, aka the annoyingly wise younger sister from (500) Days of Summer). Also on the bandwagon is Red Mist (McLovin, because I can't spell his real name), son of the most ruthless crime boss in the city, Frank D'Amico (Mark Strong, who seems to be the go-to bad guy for comic book movies these days), under the guise of a superhero to get in good with Kick-Ass, so his father can get revenge on his supposed killing of his men (actually the work of Big Daddy and Hit Girl).

Okay, the thing is, I don't throw around the term 'morals' often. I'm not that guy. I don't give a flying fuck if kids see cartoon violence on a daily basis, because if anything, it will help them during the inevitable zombie apocalypse. If you don't want your kid, specifically your kid, to watch that shit, don't let them watch it. But I don't care, and I don't like those "Oh, won't SOMEbody think of the CHILDREN!" types. So, you see, I'm not a detractor of movies based on moral dilemma.

But there's always a line, even for us amoral movie goer populace. And this movie is toeing mine. See, because there has to be something just a little bit off about an eleven-year-old girl in Japanese-anime costume killing dozens, maybe a hundred, guys with guns, knives, and whatever. If not that, then there has to be something wrong with her not thinking twice about it.

I get it. This is a comic-book movie. And it's a good one, I think. Matthew Vaughn is not doing anything wrong, at least. The action and violence of heavily stylized, the plot and pacing is good, it's very entertaining, and he never lets you forget that these characters are not real superheroes, they are not invincible, and they do, in fact, bleed blood that they probably need. Hit Girl might even be my new hero. But come on, there's a point when it stops being kid/girl power, and starts being the shameless exploitation of the fact that she's eleven for shock value. Would it have been as funny hearing an adult saying 'cunt'?

Other than that, this is a pretty damn okay movie. I like, basically, how it doesn't try to rewrite the superhero movie, just affectionately rip on. Because, despite the first half, which is deeply rooted in the realism of so-called caped vigilantism, and how that hit would go down in the real world, it still loves it's capes (in retrospect, a highly impractical costume accessory. See: The Incredibles), it's gadgets, it's triumphant one-liners and improbable defeat of the bad guys. It does, though, deconstruct the superhero genre in some places with some good old fashioned genre-savvy.

For instance, there are no real daddy issues. In fact, father-child relationships are the deciding factor. The most apparent, of course, is Big Daddy and Hit Girl, aka Damon and Mindy Macready. A disgraced cop framed for drug possession by Frank D'Amico, Damon spent a bit in jail, and his pregnant wife killed herself, but little Mindy managed to tough that shit out. When he got out, he trained his little honey bunches of oats to be a fucking war machine. Their mission, of course, is to avenge Mindy's mother's death, by taking down D'Amico. There is nothing but genuine affection between these two. When he has her wear a kevlar vest, so that she can feel what it's like to be shot, there's negotiation for the bowling alley and ice cream for two more shots. He alternatively calles her "Baby Doll" and "Child". He never sugercoats the violence they committ, but he always says it like he's reading her a betime story, no harshness or tough love.

Frank D'Amico and his son Chris, aka Red Mist, also have a somewhat loving relationship. This I found especially surprising, seeing as how you'd expect this to be Harry Osbourne-ish, him being who he is. At the very least, neglectful, disappointed, richandpowerful dad. But no.

Even Dave and his dad got it good, one of those quiet widowers who worries for his son, but just doesn't know what to do about it. I gotta say, it's refreshing to not have any angstin' over their daddy issues, as so many superhero movies do.

Oh, what else...the soundtrack is pretty awesome. Especially the music surrounding Hit Girl, undoubtedly the breakout character of this movie. The stuff you hear in the trailers is exactly what goes to the scene.

The action scenes, to me, were pretty standard, nothing very spectacular. I mean, they're pretty cool, but nothing new. One scene, an end scene, constitutes as among the coolest movie deaths ever. It'd be spoilerific if I said what it was, but let's just say it involves a bazooka.

The performances, Aaron Johnson gets the awkward teen shit down pat (considering the minor bit of Dawson casting), supported by Young Guy from Hot Tub Time Machine and some other guy I think was on Phil of the Future, as his equally nerdy, depracating best friends. Nicholas Cage is very Adam West-impersonates-Elvis-impersonates-Adam West. Chloe Moretz, of course, bleeds maturity, or at least worldliness, if that makes sense. McLovin plays a slight, maybe more serious (only a bit) variation of his usual wheezy nerdiness. Everybody is great in those regards.

Overall, the movie jumps from funny to sad to serious to shitjustgotreal to exciting to awesome, and it never lags, you gotta give it that. It's certainly not everyone'ss cup of tea, but it could've been worse.


Robert said...

I might actually check this out now, thanks to your review! I really wanted to see it...then I didn't, and now I kind of do again.

April 17, 2010 at 8:48 PM