Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Movie Review: Kick-Ass

Directed by Matthew Vaughn
Running Time: 117 minutes
Originally Released: April 16, 2010

* * * ½ (out of four)

Oh, how I want to give this movie four stars. After one viewing, Kick-Ass has to be one of my favorite superhero movies of all time. It’s also inspired me to petition Webster to add the following word to the dictionary: “greatuitous.” Definition: fantastically over-the-top, exquisitely excessive, deliciously indulgent; see also: Kick-Ass.

By his own admission, moderately geeky high-school student Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) simply exists. He’s nobody, not even a loser. That’s fine. He’s got two good buddies and a voracious appetite for comic books to keep him entertained. He also has a question: with all the comic book fans in the world, why hasn’t anyone attempted to be a superhero in real life? It can’t be that hard, right? Dave decides to find out, donning a makeshift green costume and hitting the streets of New York under the pseudonym Kick-Ass. As anyone in his or her right mind would expect, things don’t go so well for Kick-Ass, at least not at first. Eventually, however, a video of Kick-Ass fighting off some bad guys hits the web and the would-be hero becomes an overnight sensation. Shortly thereafter, a more competent and less advertised duo of superheroes—the father-daughter team of Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and Hit-Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz)—cross paths with Kick-Ass and generously befriend him, teaching him a few tricks of the trade in the process. Meanwhile, crime boss Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong) is becoming increasingly agitated at the sudden rise of heroism in his city, his son Chris (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) beaming at the opportunity to help his father fight back.

Kick-Ass is not a very serious movie. At times it is downright corny, and yet its unabashed absurdity is slathered in such extremities of violence and mayhem that you’ll wonder if its “R” rating isn’t the biggest understatement of the year. For some, this quirky blend of silliness and brutality will make the film an instant classic. For others, it will be an assault on all things good and right in the world and should be avoided like the plague, especially when the most vicious character in the movie is the 11-year-old Hit-Girl, a foul-mouthed and ruthless exterminator of bad guys. It’s obvious from my opening paragraph where I stand on this movie. When Hit-Girl first unleashed her havoc onscreen, complete with a childlike “la la la” soundtrack playing in the background, I laughed harder than I have in years. It’s the defining moment of the film. If you love that scene, you’ll love the movie as a whole. If you’re appalled by that scene, you shouldn’t have been watching the movie in the first place. As for me, I’m tempted to buy the DVD just to watch that scene again and again.

I firmly believe you can love a movie without thinking it’s a very good movie. Kick-Ass is very good, but it’s not nearly as perfect as it is enjoyable. True, it’s not trying to be a perfect movie, but I think even in its own aspirations, it sometimes falls short. Aaron Johnson is adequate as the nerdy-meets-normal Dave, but his performance is drowned out by just about everyone else in the film. The movie is also uneven, welding together realism and sensationalism with bumpy and sometimes jagged results. Thankfully, there is plenty to love, not least among them being Chloë Grace Moretz’s splendidly controversial performance as Hit-Girl. Moretz doesn’t just steal the film, she violently abducts it, infusing moviegoers with an instantaneous case of Stockholm syndrome as she does so. Nicolas Cage, proving more entertaining than he’s been in years, is also a delight, especially in those scenes where he teaches his daughter the ways of heroism—how to bounce back from a bullet to the chest, for example. But for the right audience, Moretz’s and Cage’s performances are just two of many elements that make Kick-Ass a movie that fully lives up to its name. Consider yourself whooped.


  1. Now each time I watch a movie (or part of one given that it's on t.v. and I fall asleep or miss the beginning or end), I want you to review it so I know if my opinion is right or not! :) At least wish we could talk about it. Love you!

  2. I would not have paid any attention to this one if not for your review. Now I'd have to think it must have merit and be worth checking out.

    Just wanted you to know I stopped by for a minute. I miss you too.

  3. Guess what!? We saw this one. I thought, while at the movie store, that I had wanted to see it from your review, remembering only that you had said how funny it was. I forgot that you had said it was rough etc. Yeah, a bit much for me... seeing a little girl be so violent. But, the idea was fun and I was excited to talk to you about one I'd seen too!