Kick-Ass is half awesome, half boring as the growing grass. As someone on Twitter commented to me, it should be called “Half-Assed.” For me, the far more exciting second half was enough to overcome the turgid beginning, but that may not be the case for audience members less swayed by over-the-top violence and fun stupidity.
The film is, as everyone on the planet knows at this point, based on the Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr. comic book of the same time. Neither the comic nor the movie, despite what the movie’s ad campaign would suggest, are suitable for children or those easily offended. There are gay jokes (both), not-so-subtle racism (comic), buckets of blood (both), children swearing and doing awful things to others and having awful things done to them (both), and Nicholas Cage (movie).
The main thrust is that loser nerd Dave gets the idea of becoming a real-world crimefighter, like Batman, though without Batman’s expensive equipment, extensive training, or stoic demeanor. His first time out, predictably, he gets his ass kicked. But he becomes an overnight internet celebrity, and other “superheroes” start to pop up in the city.
The cast is strong, with the standouts being Chloe Moretz as Hit Girl, Mark Strong as the main bad guy Frank D’Amico, and, surprisingly, Nic Cage as Big Daddy. Mark Strong’s comedic timing is excellent, and he manages to make you care a little about a complete scumbag character. Nic Cage, who, I admit, I usually cannot stand at all, really surprised me here. When he’s in his Big Daddy get-up, he plays the character like some unholy love child of Adam West and William Shatner, with very funny effect; when he’s just normal Damon Macready, he comes across like a well-intentioned doofus a times, and a stone-cold badass at others; but always a very loving father to Hit Girl–perhaps the most impressive acting achievement, given what they get up to. And, towards the end, he gives one of the most heartstring-pulling performances in any movie I’ve seen in quite a while.
Hit Girl is the most controversial thing about the movie. She is violent, foul-mouthed, and, frankly, the most entertaining film character in a while. However, her portrayal is troubling for me. I don’t mind the language so much when she’s in her Hit Girl persona, because it’s effective as a tool against those she’s fighting, distracting them because it’s so weird. But when she’s not that, when she’s being Chloe–and admittedly she’s not had a normal childhood by any means–it’s just…wrong.
The weakest link in the movie is Red Mist. Played by McLovin–real name Christopher Mintz-Plasse, but forever McLovin in our hearts and minds–he’s basically just McLovin with a superhero costume and sweet ride. It’s not until the last set piece that he does anything resembling acting.
So, should you see it? To answer this question for yourself, here’s a simple quiz:
1. Do you enjoy the films of Sylvester Stallone?
2. Are you not easily offended?
3. Do you enjoy Kill Bill?
If you answered yes to at least 2 of those questions, then this movie is for you. Unless the one you answered no to was number 2. Then this movie is not for you.
Overall, I enjoyed it, despite its problems of being excessively boring in the first half, as well as some story and acting problems.