Mike Does Kick Ass

“I always wondered why nobody did it before me.”

The Scoop: 2010 R, Directed by Matthew Vaughn and starring Aaron Johnson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Chloe Moretz and Nicholas Cage

Tagline: They can’t read your mind. But they can kick your ass.

Summary Capsule: Random guy decides to fight crime without powers, training or the sense to wear a bullet-proof vest.

Mike’s Rating: Still waiting for The Flaming Carrot to get his own movie.

Mike’s Review: Kick Ass has a few problems right out of the box. The violence is a little too over the top, the language more so (especially when uttered by ten year old newcomer Moretz). Not that I’m offended by any of that, but the movie at times seems preoccupied with how edgy it is. There’s also the mixed messages the film relies on, tearing down the superhero genre conventions in the first half only to indulge in them in the second. Also, after reading the comic and realizing just how much the story was cleaned up, it almost seems lame to pat yourself on the back for how gritty and hardcore your flick is when you dialed so far back on the grittiness to make the film friendly to mainstream movie goers.

All that being said, this was the most fun I’ve had at the movies this year.

Dave Lizewski is an everyday geeky teenager without much in way of looks, brains, interests outside of comic books or attention from the opposite sex. He’s mugged daily, to the point where it’s almost a routine. The boredom and despair of his mundane existence leads him to  take his superhero fixation a tad too far and dress up in a wetsuit and ski mask and go out to beat up criminals.

Not anywhere in the history of the superhero genre has there been a character less equipped to deal with the war on crime, (and I’m including Squirrel Girl and Hindsight Lad in that statement). Most of us would probably take a karate lesson or gear up at a local army surplus store, but not this guy. Dave’s first attempt to fight crime goes pretty much the way it would for any of us who woke up one Tuesday morning and decided that trying to interrupt two car thieves with nothing but a lead pipe and our dreams was a good idea. Once he gets out of the hospital, glutton for punishment that he is, he keeps up the self-destructive behavior, only now armed with metal plates and a diminished capacity to feel pain due to nerve damage. After his clumsy attempts to fight off a trio of attackers  get recorded  and uploaded to YouTube, his superhero persona, dubbed Kickass is a celebrity. Unfortunately the actions of another group of vigilantes, the father/daughter duo of Big Daddy and Hit Girl, who are waging a brutal war against organized crime, are being attributed to the only superhero in town with the lack of sense to create a MySpace page. Thus Kickass ends up wanted by the mob and Dave quickly realizes he’s in over his head, even with the assistance of Red Mist, a fellow superhero who’s just as useless, but way more loaded.

As a deconstruction of the superhero genre it doesn’t quite achieve Watchmen or even Mystery Men status, but there are some technically well-choreographed fight scenes, some great dialogue and solid writing throughout. Towards the end of the film, the satire scoots over to make room for some pretty sweet action sequences, mostly delivered by Hit-Girl. Nicolas Cage does a fair Adam West impression while in his Big Daddy guise and has a really great back story explaining his animosity towards the movie’s requisite crime boss. Hit Girl and Big Daddy also have a surprisingly touching father/daughter relationship amidst all the chaos. For his part, Aaron Johnson is having fun getting his geek on as Lizewski and trying his best to be tough as Kickass, often failing miserably. Christopher Mintz-Plasse (yes Mclovin himself) does a great job as fellow geek Chris D’amico/Red Mist, playing the character with equal parts awkwardness and gravitas. Ultimately though, it’s Chloe Moretz who walks away with the movie. Her foul-mouthed, gun-toting, lethal martial artist anti-heroine injects adrenaline into the movie and makes you laugh out loud with excitement as a ten-year-old unloads whole clips and bloodies various bladed weapons on a slew of hapless thugs. It’s popcorn action at it’s best.

So ultimately the movie can’t decide whether it’s moral is “follow your dreams”,  “your dreams will seriously get you killed”, “violence is bad”, or “violence is bad for geeky high schoolers but pretty much okay if you’re a elementary schooler with a vendetta”, so if you’re looking for a moral, this isn’t your cup of tea. If you want a straight up comedy-action superhero send-up with a little bit of depth and a lot of people killed and cussing, this is your flick.

Criminals everywhere are running scared.

Intermission!

  • Atomic Comics is an actual chain of comic book stores in Phoenix, AZ. (I’ve been to all of them and they don’t sell coffee).
  • The comic style animated sequence detailing the history of Hit Girl and Big Daddy was drawn by comic artist and Kickass co-creator John Romita Jr.
  • D’Amico’s goons are listed in the credits as “Posh”, “Scary”, “Sporty”, “Ginger”, and “Baby”.
  • After being rejected by every studio they approached, Matthew Vaughn raised the budget at a dinner party and made the movie independently. Vaughn ultimately sold the movie to Universal for more than he had originally asked them for.
  • Damon has a mustache, and while disguised as Big Daddy has an even bigger mustache. Apparently this was Nicolas Cage’s idea.
  • This might be the first non-Marvel comic book adaptation to feature a Stan Lee cameo.
  • The comic and the movie were written at the same time. The film rights to the comic book were sold before the first issue was published.
  • Kickass creator Mark Millar playfully commented that the writers of the film made a “chick flick” compared to the comic. I’m inclined to agree.
  • The name “Dave Lizewski” was chosen by a kid of the same name when creator Millar held a contest to name his next comic book character.

Groovy Quotes

Dave Lizewski: I always wondered why nobody did it before me. I mean, all those comic books. Movies. TV shows… You’d think that one eccentric loner would have made himself a costume. Is everyday life really so exciting, are schools and offices so thrilling, that I’m the only one who ever fantasized about this? Come on. Be honest with yourself. At some point in our lives, we all wanted to be a superhero.

Dave Lizewski: The comic-books had it wrong. It didn’t take a trauma, or cosmic rays or a power ring to make a superhero. Just the perfect combination of optimism and naivete.

Dave Lizewski: Even with my metal plates and my [frakked] up nerve endings, I’ve gotta tell ya: that hurt, but not half as much as the idea of leaving everything behind. Katie. My dad. Todd and Marty. And all the things I’d never do, like learn to drive, or see what me and Katie’s kids would look like, or find out what happened in Lost.

Damon Macready: So… Have you thought a little more about what you might want for your birthday?
Mindy Macready: Can I get a puppy?
Damon Macready: You wanna get a dog?
Mindy Macready: Yeah, a cuddly fluffy one, and a Bratz movie-star make over Sasha! …I’m just[messing] with you Daddy. I’d love a Benchmade model 42 butterfly knife!
Damon Macready: Oh, child… You always knock me for a loop!

Dave Lizewski: I called it preparation. But if you called it fantasizing, it would  have been hard to argue.

Dave Lizewski: Like every serial killer already knew, eventually fantasizing just doesn’t do it for you anymore.

Dave Lizewski: And if you’re reassuring yourself that I’m gonna make it through this since I’m talking to you now, quit being such a smart ass. Hell dude, You never seen Sin City? Sunset Boulevard? American Beauty?

If You Liked This Movie, Try These:

  • Mystery Men
  • The Specials
  • Superhero Movie
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8 Comments

  1. Mike, I think there’s been some mistake. Squirrel Girl is the only hero Doctor Doom fears. She’s personally defeated Thanos. Certainly she doesn’t deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as Hindsight Lad. Please rectify this error immediately.

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