Before we get into this, let me first say that I never read the graphic novel, Kick-Ass, on which the movie, Kick-Ass, is based. I don’t know if that means I have to go to Nerd Jail, or what, but also I am not scared of Nerd Jail. I’ve got a feeling I could survive an eternity in Nerd Jail. It would be like Oz, except with less wheelchair slam poetry and with more me bossing nerds around. The point is, Kick-Ass is for nerds, and if there was a sweatshirt company called FNBN that made American Apparel style shoelace hoodies, all the advertising would feature Kick-Ass wearing boyshorts. (That is such a confusing company I just made up, combining poorly defined characteristics of so many other companies that have nothing to do with each other. It is so weird that I am not a billionaire, since my head is basically filled with BUSINESS.)
So, Kick-Ass, I liked it. Let’s talk about it!
Watching the trailers for the movie, you could tell that it was scientifically designed to hit all of the nerd pleasure centers. I mean, a movie about an awkward teenager who decides to become a superhero, makes friends with other superheroes, hangs out in comic books stores, all to a pop-punk soundtrack, and a little girl saying the word “cunt”? I hope there are enough beds in the Nerd Hospital, because we’re facing a Global Nerd Health Crisis. And in that sense, the movie looked really annoying. And was annoying. Just because you appeal to some kind of lizard-brain desire to watch socially awkward people become heroes and also sick katana fights set to bubblegum pop doesn’t mean that the part of my brain that isn’t a lizard-brain doesn’t recognize that it’s getting manipulated.
But then, at a certain point, you’re just like “You know, I am having fun. So, there’s that.”
On that note: the moment near the beginning of the movie, when Nicolas Cage shoots Hit Girl in the chest at close range in a drainage ditch and her tiny body goes flying backwards and the air fills with feathers from her tiny pink down-feather coat? There has to be a German word for the feeling one gets in watching that moment. It’s not unpleasant! But it should be! I know that it is, again, just the smirking manipulation of juxtaposing graphic violence with tiny children, the same way we laugh in a comedy when Will Ferrell or Steve Carrell or whoever wrestles with what is obviously a stuffed animal, and then kicks it through a window, off a bridge, into a wall. Speaking of graphic violence, the movie was way more violent than I thought it was going to be! That one guy got crushed in a trash compactor, and another guy got microwaved. Yikes! Is that what teenagers are into these days? Teenagers! Just make out!
For the most part, everyone was perfectly decent at acting in it. I did think that Aaron Johnson, who played Kick-Ass, was overly nerding it up. At one point, he was trying on his Kick-Ass costume, and they lit it in such a way that he had a really chiseled jaw, and you’re like, oh, wait, right, he is a handsome actor playing a nerd, which is fine, and a thing I have come to expect, but he can scale it back a little bit. Also, Christopher Mintz-Plasse doesn’t seem like he’s going to be able to shake the yoke of McLovin from his tiny neck, and it didn’t help that this movie was literally, Superbad 2: Superheroes. And Nicolas Cage was awful. Just awful. But that goes without saying. But Mark Strong was great as Frank D’Amico, and I also enjoy the comedic stylings of Clark Duke (although how about not as much smirking, Clark Duke!)
Now, the main “controversy” (more like NONTROVERSY, right people who talk like moms?) surrounding Kick-Ass is the whole Hit Girl thing, and about having a tiny little sweet baby child using cusswords and stabbing people in the dick and getting punched in their babyface. I understand where someone who might complain about this is coming from, but it seems like a pretty bankrupt argument. I mean, Hollywood and the movie industry are disgusting pits of amoral despair, period. If you want to argue that 11-year-olds shouldn’t be in movies, ever, because it twists their perspective on the world around them and distorts their value system with an emphasis on ego-gratification and materialism and narcissistic self-exploitation, then I will agree with you. But personally I don’t think there’s really that big of a difference between playing an 11-year-old assassin with a trucker’s mouth, and the little boy in Sleepless in Seattle. It’s not like either of those kids are normal kids doing normal kid things. They’re monsters in a monster world perfecting the art of YIKES.
My main problem with Kick-Ass, besides the aforementioned man-handled-nerd-pleasure-center-massage, is that while it’s purportedly a satire of superhero comic books (and now a satire of superhero movies), it’s also not, because ultimately it is a superhero movie (based on a superhero comic book). And who would want that satire anyway? What I’m trying to say is that while the movie pokes fun at some of the tropes of the superhero genre, ultimately it doesn’t subvert any of them. At the end of the day, we’re actually dealing with a pretty straight-forward superhero narrative complete with a final boss, an orphaned hero, and the birth of a supervillain in the wake of his supervillain father’s defeat. For as much as Kick-Ass likes to be arch and knowing about the genre it’s “satirizing,” really it just wants to be part of the club. And that’s fine, it’s a fun club to be a part of, who doesn’t like that club? But ultimately, an arch and knowing parody of a superhero movie that genuinely just wishes it was an actual superhero movie isn’t going to be as good as a superhero movie that knows its a superhero movie. Batman will always be better than Big Daddy, even if Big Daddy wasn’t played by Nicolas “The Tutankhamun of New Orleans” Cage.
But I liked it. It was fun. What did you guys think?