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Overall Rating

Awesome: 25.45%
Worth A Look30.91%
Just Average: 14.55%
Pretty Crappy: 23.64%
Sucks: 5.45%

5 reviews, 25 user ratings

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by Rob Gonsalves

"Fredric Wertham is spinning in his grave."
4 stars

Some are saying that "Kick-Ass" becomes what it satirizes. I prefer to think it satirizes what it must become.

The movie, about a dorky teen (Aaron Johnson) who suits up in a costume and calls himself Kick-Ass, has its origins in ó where else? ó a comic book, written by Mark Millar and drawn by John Romita Jr. (whose father drew Spider-Man back in the Ď60s). Millar, who also wrote the comic that became 2008ís Wanted, is a former comics fanboy who seems to loathe that younger self. Wanted and Kick-Ass stick it to the reader, making us feel foolish for investing our emotions in yet more power fantasies. The film version, written by Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman and directed by Vaughn, is more even-tempered. Itís kinder to its characters (and therefore to its audience), though still pretty harsh by comic-book-movie standards.

Kick-Ass has no special powers, other than metal plates in his head and iffy nerve endings following the severe beating that greets his maiden voyage as a crimefighter. So he can take more of a beating than most people without blacking out ó that's about all. Kick-Ass is in one movie that respects the laws of physics, the reality of hard objects thudding into flesh and bone. The other movie features Big Daddy and Hit-Girl (Nicolas Cage and ChloŽ Grace Moretz), a father-daughter team similarly attired and inclined. They have the moves and the skills; they truly kick ass. Big Daddy is avenging past misdeeds by a local crime boss (Mark Strong), and he has recruited Hit-Girl into a life of ultraviolence, much as Batman did with Robin.

Batman and Robin never kill anyone.[1] Big Daddy and Hit-Girl do, with machinelike efficiency. The Batman of later years used to brood about the dangerous life heíd brought a child into. Big Daddy doesnít brood, and Hit-Girl loves the lifestyle. ChloŽ Grace Moretz makes Hit-Girl an average little girl who adores her daddy and thus adores making him happy by becoming a wind-up toy that spits bullets and knives. Nicolas Cage makes Big Daddy sort of sweetly geeky out of costume, intensely proud of his little girl. Whatís missing is a revelation in the comic ó a typical cynical Millar touch ó that turns Big Daddy into a delusional sociopath. Here, heís for real ó a sociopath with a mission, one could say.

Vaughn and Goldman also make Kick-Ass (real name: Dave Lizewski) more heroic than he was in Millarís hands. In the comic, Dave becomes Kick-Ass mainly out of boredom. In the movie, heís incensed because people stand by and do nothing while others are victimized. The murder of Kitty Genovese haunts the film the way it haunted Rorschach in Watchmen. Vaughn keeps working up to hyperbolic action sequences, mostly involving Big Daddy and/or Hit-Girl; Kick-Ass and another teen wannabe superhero, Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), may read a lot of comics but donít really know what theyíre doing. Hit-Girl is there to show the fanboys how itís done and also to reflect their own juvenile fantasies rudely back at them.

Kick-Ass may strike some as muddled, because it doesnít come down on one side or another. Costumed vigilantism is painful, bloody stuff; itís also cool as hell. The two movies ó Kick-Ass' movie and Big Daddy/Hit-Girl's movie ó never quite merge, but a good deal of comic tension comes out of that. Vaughn acknowledges the light-as-air rush of an action scene that laughs at gravity. Controversy has enveloped the film because Hit-Girl, an eleven-year-old, curses and makes many bad guys go splat. Thatís the filmís reductio ad absurdum, but itís nothing new ó Japanís anime and manga have given us ass-kicking pre-pubescent girls for years, and sometimes creepily sexualized, too. Weíre just beginning to catch up. Kick-Ass speaks volumes about where our entertainment is heading. We can either take noisy offense or go along for the grisly and giddy ride.

[1] Actually, yeah, Batman and Robin did kill bad guys, back in the more carefree and amoral comics of the '40s, before Fredric Wertham spoiled the party and the Senate stepped in to make the comics industry clean their own house or else Uncle Sam would do it for them. So the Dynamic Duo as we've known them for the past few decades have not been killers. But they sure started out not so much different from Big Daddy and Hit-Girl.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=19779&reviewer=416
originally posted: 04/17/10 17:16:55
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2010 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2010 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

4/18/13 Charles Tatum Ultra-violent, satirical, and worth a look. 4 stars
8/28/12 Alex Figueroa It was a bit cheesy but towards the end it got better. It was alright. 3 stars
5/12/12 randy todger awesome 5 stars
4/08/11 mr.mike It was damn good. 4 stars
3/09/11 art "KICK ASS!,WAS NO KISS ASS!" 5 stars
2/19/11 Dom Gutlessly superficial, unrewarding, deplorable and tedious. 1 stars
8/14/10 gc Why is kick ass even in this movie? 4 stars
8/04/10 Dan Two words: Hit-Girl. 5 stars
7/31/10 Enrique I thought it was going to be like spy kids. Boy was I wrong! Awesome movie! 5 stars
6/14/10 art the BEST thing about this movie was HIT-GIRL! 4 stars
5/26/10 Eric Perski Best film I've seen in years, a revelation. Totally wasn't expecting this and it was awesom 5 stars
5/20/10 ForAnAngel BEST MOVIE IN YEARS!!!!! 5 stars
5/11/10 Moeyanger Tarentino meets Apatow- Loved Hit-Girl 4 stars
5/09/10 Josie Cotton is a goddess The closest thing I've seen to a mainstrem Troma movie 5 stars
5/07/10 Luisa Super cool movie. Please don't take kids to watch it. 5 stars
5/07/10 black Sunshine why review a film of a genre you don't like? 5 stars
5/04/10 dognose Thank you for making this film, whoever made this film 5 stars
5/03/10 barrow#1 freakn hiarious and had a good story behind it. i loved it! 5 stars
4/22/10 Man Out 6 Bucks Hollywood going hentai 2 stars
4/21/10 Ronald Holst A little to stupid for most I would imagine 1 stars
4/19/10 Matt A Tarentino-ish comic film. Not as reflective as it would like, but still ridiculously fun. 5 stars
4/18/10 Unexpected I really didn't know what to expect..took my daughter and WOW! HitGirl was unreal! We loved 5 stars
4/17/10 action movie fan good start but turns deja vu spiderman meets kill bill both were better 3 stars
4/16/10 Mackenzie Everything the title promises. Go see it now! 5 stars
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  16-Apr-2010 (R)
  DVD: 03-Aug-2010

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  16-Apr-2010 (MA)
  DVD: 03-Aug-2010

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