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Wednesday, May 26, 2010


When you finish a movie and the person next to you exclaims, “…the fuck did I just watch?” it normally gives off a negative reaction toward the film. In my world, more often than not, it means it's truly liked. And like the loose language in the film itself those same words were uttered like a storm of applause when Kick-Ass ended.

When high-school nerd Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) wonders why no one will brave the tights of a superhero, he takes on the task himself. Unfortunately, he inadvertently gets involved with two vigilantes who can do the job better than he and a crime boss confused with their existence. Add some blood, fantastic one-liners and a jar full of irony and you have Kick-Ass.

If you’ve seen only the previews to Kick-Ass you know it’s a comedy. If you don’t know it’s a comedy, guess what? It is. Surprise. But what makes it work is everything it stands for. Kick-Ass asks why we love superheroes and why it’s a good idea and a terrible idea to be one. It answers these questions with a rush of reverence, idiocy and a rather unsettling look at propaganda.

Dave is not a superhero. He is a child in love with iconic fictional characters and what they stand for. He is so enamored by them he decides to become one in hopes of supporting their ideals. Alright. It’s time for another skit of Good Idea/Bad Idea. Good Idea: Standing up for the ideals that Superman and Batman do. The world knows these characters enough to agree with the reasons behind what they do. Furthermore, who doesn’t want to take a stand against evil and all that is wrong? Bad idea: The fictional characters of Batman and Superman have specific skills and powers that force audience members into suspending disbelief. Dressing up in a costume to literally fight crime results in Kick-Ass getting his ass kicked. And rest assured he spends more time having his name handed to him than living up to it. The outcome is hysterical. Love it.

But by far, the show stealer is Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz), an eleven-year-old girl with a stronger skill set than Dave (by miles). Her father (Nic Cage) has brainwashed her into avenging her mother’s death by use of soccer moms’ biggest complaint against superheroes: The violence. Truthfully, her reasons behind being a "superhero" are no different than Batman’s or Spider-Man’s. The controversial part lies in her age. But something surprising happens with her. Instead of having her life ruined Hit Girl becomes responsible. She proves she has not become a mindless killer. Her mission is to avenge her mother and that’s it! Now you could argue she’s been programmed to do that and once the program is finished so is she, but that’s going too far. Plus, a lot of it is simply that it’s hysterical to watch an eleven-year-old girl annihilate the shit out of an army of crime pawns.

And thus we come to the to the final stretch of this amusing social commentary on superheroes and their legacy. I can talk about the film’s intricate meaning all day, but it only works with the action as a very powerful punctuation. Kick-Ass’s final foray into superhero-dom teamed with Hit Girl’s bloody vendetta splatters with a genius mesh of slapstick and action. It is everything you want to happen—Saying it delivers is an understatement. Sure a lot of the action is what takes the authenticity out of the film’s glaring satire. In fact the entire movie takes baby steps toward total absurdity as if it’s trying to trick the audience. There is no connection with reality by the end. But despite that rather muffled flaw the characters make it all work out. So is it funny? Absolutely, but it’s also something to mull over once finished. Recommended for a laugh. Also recommended for a look.

*** out of ****

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