Thursday, December 23, 2010

One Minute Review- Kick-Ass

Kick-Ass is a dumb and ugly movie. It starts as a promising satire about teenagers and superheroes and why there are none in real life. A brilliant film seems to be blooming until it gets bored with being insightful and moves into violent and reprehensible territory. This is a film that plays like the younger, less enlightened cousin of the great Watchmen adaptation. And I don’t mean that as a compliment.

Call me unhip, square, not with it, whatever, but the problem with Kick-Ass is not that it features teenaged superheroes (one an 11 year old girl) but that people actually die; in graphic detail no less. These kids are not superheroes, they are murderers out for vigilante justice. There’s something morally wrong about all this.

Maybe this is a perfectly accurate interpretation of what the comics the film is based on are like. I don’t know. But that director Matthew Vaugh thinks that this material is hip and funny is a complete miscalculation. Here Vaugh is hiding behind satire: as if, as long as the movie is laughing at itself, it can justify anything. That Vaugh does the best to make this all bright and hyper-stylized (too hyper-stylized at times) is credit to his talent and I hope one day a great action movie falls in his lap.

In reality then, Kick-Ass becomes just the thing the material should ultimately want to deviate from: a superhero movie. Except these superheroes kill and steal and are really no better than the criminals they put down. If the movie had actually been about Kick-Ass and his life as an amateur teenage superhero wannabe, well that could have been brilliant, sparkling satire. My vote is for Judd Apatow to helm the reboot a couple years down the line. As it stands it’s just a dumb, action film, filled with characters not developed enough to care much about, with the sad misfortune that most of them are also under the age of 16.


  1. Hmm, I still don't really understand/agree with the accusations of it being morally reprehensible. Though they're obviously not persons you'd easily want to emulate, I don't think that makes the film any less earnest in whatever it's aiming at. Still, what I took away from the film most was Aaron Johnson, who had a fairly good year (along with The Greatest and Nowhere Boy).

  2. Andrew - even if you strip away any moral problems I had with this flick it still is a fairly half-assed and uninteresting superhero movie. So even if it achieves what it aimed for, it was aiming low. Aaron Johnson indeed had a good year.

  3. You didn't even like the part where they lit Nicolas Cage on fire, and he was calling out commands to Hit-Girl in that weird "singing" voice? Or the part where Hit-Girl calls that guy a douche after crushing him in the trash compactor? I have to say it worked for me, on all levels, but I applaud your courage in going against the grain so vehemently.

  4. And don't forget that Aaron Johnson also got engaged this year -- to a woman 23 years older than him. (His Nowhere Boy director, Sam Taylor-Wood.)

  5. Vance - Nothing about this movie worked for me. I was charmed by it for about 20 minutes at the beginning when I thought I was going to get something clever and funny (like Easy A but about superheroes) but then it just became lazy and uninspired sans moral objections to the point where I didn't care about anything going on.