Nov 072010

Yeah, so Kick-Ass was released six months ago, and it’s been out on home video for some time now.  But I just watched it this afternoon while Lea took the boys to her mom’s.

It’s the story (based on the comic book of the same name) of a shy, nerdy high-school student (Aaron Johnson) who wonders one day why no one is ever really a superhero, so he decides to do it, naming himself Kick-Ass.  Then we meet another superhero or two with different motivations, and we’re off to the races.

The film has generated its share of controversy for its violence, and it is pretty heavy-duty.  Mr. Ebert and others have pontificated endlessly about the extreme acts committed, particularly by Chloë Moretz‘s Hit-Girl, who is 11 or 12.  Given that child actors have done morally questionable things in the service of the art for some time (Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver, anyone?  Linda Blair in The Exorcist?), it’s tough for me to get terribly worked up about that angle of it.

It does, however, earn its R rating.  This is not a movie for children.  The action is gleefully over-the-top and frequently very gory, but skillfully and stylishly produced.  Different worlds, but I thought of Kill Bill more than once.  Moreover, now that it’s possible to portray nearly anything with computers, my threshold of necessity for breaking out the “bullet time” effects is pretty high, but this one does well with it.

There are just enough laughs to call it an action comedy, I think.  Nicolas Cage‘s Big Daddy is frequently hilarious when instructing Hit-Girl, and the tension with Kick-Ass’s would-be girlfriend (Lyndsy Fonseca), mostly generated by him allowing her to believe he is gay in order to get closer to her in a non-threatening way, is memorable.

The soundtrack is marvelous.  The main fanfare does such a great job sounding like a superhero theme, but without clearly evoking anything else you’ve ever heard.  More than once, I backed up and watched the scene near the end that included it.

My single favorite thing about the movie is how well it creates its universe and inhabits it.  It’s not quite the world in which we live, but it’s close.  There’s a 5% comic book tilt or so that serves the story when it needs it, but never openly offends your sense of plausibility.  The only potentially unfortunate characteristic of the world is that it makes significant use of current web sites—eBay, MySpace, and Facebook most prominently—which guarantees that it will age poorly.  However, perhaps their contributions to the story are an acceptable trade-off.

I had a blast.  Might own it.


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