I get the whole making-fun-of-comic-book-heroes-then-becoming-one-yourself bit. It’s all a little bit cheeky and overused. If done right, watching a scene where characters talk about other movies can be fascinating (as Clooney and Lopez did in Out of Sight). But if done poorly, as the title character in Kick-Ass and his lame-ass friends demonstrate, then it reminds us that we are… watching a movie. Which seems to miss the whole point entirely.
A dorky high school kid (Aaron Johnson) wants nothing more than to be respected and get laid. He manages to do both after dressing up in a wet suit, calling himself Kick-Ass and becoming a viral sensation on YouTube.
He goes rouge for a little while, actually getting his ass-kicked a few times, before meeting tiny, ferocious tween Hit-Girl (Chloe Mortez) whose character provides the film with its best and worst moments. Everything that comes out of Mortez’s mouth is a gas. Seriously, how can you not laugh at a purple-haired 13-year-old telling a bunch of thugs off with the line, “Okay you cunts, let's see what you can do now”?
But as the overly long film progresses, Hit-Girl’s antics become more troubling. Hit-Girl, along with her daddy superhero, appropriately dubbed Big Daddy, and even more appropriately played by Nicolas Cage, are the real ass kickers in this flick. The gruesome violence they leash out rivals anything The Bride cooked up in the Kill Bill films. But there’s the problem.
During the climatic good-vs-evil fight scene, Hit-Girl battles it out with a local crime boss (the very talented, soon to be well-known Mark Strong). During the fight, Hit-Girl is punched, kicked, thrown, shot at, bloodied up, and beaten down every which way. I don’t think I’m alone in saying that it just isn’t very amusing to watch a 13-year-old girl get the shit kicked out of her for entertainment purposes.
Director Matthew Vaughn did wonders with Layer Cake, but in Kick-Ass he could exercise a little tact. Is it a contradiction to enjoy watching a kid curse profanely with each line of dialogue but be repulsed by the violence that comes her way? Possibly. But oh well. D+