April 15, 2010


I know there are positive reviews of this movie out that say something like “Kick-Ass kicks ass.”  That’s technically true.  However, if we’re using a description to reflect the film’s name, then a more accurate title would be Extreme Violence Super Fun Time.  I’ll admit that title is less catchy and isn’t the name of the main character, but it does describe this post-modern superhero flick.  Kick-Ass is one of the most fun times I’ve ever had at a movie.  It’s a miracle of balance as it imbues heart into a film where people have their hearts impaled with a samurai sword.

Aaron Johnson, Clark Duke Kick Ass movie image.jpgDave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) is a geek who wonders why no one has ever tried to become a costumed superhero before.  As his friend Marty (Clark Duke) explains, “Because they would get their asses kicked.”  Marty’s not wrong.  Dave doesn’t heed his pal’s advice, dons a wet suit, wields two batons, creates the alter-ego of “Kick-Ass” and goes out to fight bad guys.  We soon see that despite Dave’s enthusiasm and bravery, he’s only playing at the amateur level.  The pros are Hit-Girl (Chloe Moretz) and Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage), an adorable father-daughter duo who go out for ice cream by day and render criminals into slaughtered remains at night.  The two storylines converge as mafia boss Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong) puts out a bounty on the superheroes that are hurting his business despite the popularity of Kick-Ass as an Internet and pop-culture sensation.

Cage may be the biggest name actor in the film, but he makes a delightful turn in an important supporting role that helps bolster the world while helping to ground Hit-Girl as a real character who isn’t a disturbed individual despite her disturbing actions as a murderous vigilante.  But the two real stars of the film are Johnson and Moretz and their performances are key in helping to combine the film’s cartoonish mayhem with a charming naivety and bravado.

Chloe Moretz Kick Ass movie image.jpgThe performance people will be buzzing about is Moretz.  Hit-Girl steals the show with her brutal-yet-stylish kills, foul-mouthed dialogue, and her disarmingly sweet face.  Hit-Girl is like the child on the front of a cereal box except the cereal isn’t a nice mix of toasted oats and marshmallows but of razorblades and shotgun shells (part of a balanced breakfast).  If you take a step back, the idea of Hit-Girl is disturbing.  She’s a child with no regard for human life or a modicum of mercy.  But in the world of Kick-Ass, Hit-Girl is a cartoon.  Her father puts a bulletproof vest on her and then shoots his little girl so she won’t be afraid when she’s looking down the barrel of a Glock.  First off: who is making bulletproof vests in child sizes?  Secondly, a vest may stop a bullet, but it won’t stop a little girl’s ribs from breaking apart.  Hit-Girl is grounded in an emotional reality by her relationship with her father, but she, like all the other film’s characters, exist in a comic book world full of bright colors and blazing destruction.

However, it’s Aaron Johnson’s performance that holds Kick-Ass together and gives the film an emotional center.  He’s a powerless Peter Parker and he’s skilled at getting his ass kicked, but we never look down on Dave or scoff at his noble intentions.  He’s naive and he’s out of his depth, but he’s brave and his desire to do good is good enough.  When Kick-Ass fights off three bad guys who are attempting to beat up on another person, he says he would rather die protecting a helpless stranger from three thugs.  Superheroes let us imagine ourselves as protectors who can do great things.  Dave just makes himself the star of his own superhero comic  He may get his ass kicked, but Johnson makes Dave come off like a hero and not a schmuck.  As Dave looks into his bedroom mirror and tries out one-liners against imaginary bad guys, Johnson manages to take what could feel like an unnerving Travis Bickle moment and transforms it into feeling like a kid playing superhero in his back yard.

kick-ass_movie_image_aaron_johnson_christopher_mintz-plasse_01.jpgBut how do you blend such disparate characters into one story and one world?  Ask director Matthew Vaughn because he found a way.  For a film that could be wildly schizophrenic, Vaughn rips forth method from the madness and keeps the characters sane despite their insane actions.  Working from a charged script he co-wrote with Jane Goldman, Vaughn electrifies the world of Kick-Ass with crackling dialogue, likable characters, and array of miscellaneous tools of destruction that I won’t spoil here.  Vaughn’s trick is to not rip comic book characters out of the books and into a real world, but to rip out comic book pages, anime, B-movie action, and push the real world inside the gleeful chaos that cranks what you love about pop-violence entertainment and pushes the envelope of destruction as far as it can go.

Johnson and Moretz give terrific performances and Vaughn’s direction is borderline-supernatural, but as I’m sure you can tell by this point, the real star of the film is violence.  It appeals to the child in all of us who laughed when Daffy Duck had a shotgun explode in his face or when Wile E. Coyote fell off a cliff. It devilishly snickers at the little bastards we could be when we happily took our action figures, made them fight, and then put one of them in the microwave to see what would happen (the result: our parents got really pissed off).  Kick-Ass appeals to that kid who loves violence and still grew up well-adjusted…for the most part.  For the part that remained in a state of arrested development, the film uses piles of corpses and twisted expectations to connect our childhood love of cartoon violence to the mature content we demand as adults.  The coyote must now splatter on the desert sands, the duck must now have his head blown apart, and an 11-year-old girl must swear like a sailor and connect bullets to bad guys’ vital organs.  If the performances, script, and direction of this film didn’t mix perfectly, we would find ourselves shifting uncomfortably in our seats and/or leave the theater feeling dirty.  Instead, we’re cheering and laughing all the way back home.

Kick-Ass transports the viewer into a world of superheroes without superpowers, the celebration of online celebrity, and a level of exaggerated violence that would border on disturbing were it not imbued with childlike joy.  It’s Looney Tunes, anime, first-person-shooter videogames, and gritty violence mixed with the innocence of Golden Age comics.  It’s a delicious concoction that won’t only kick your ass, but will punch you until you’re smiling through a bloody mouth and broken teeth.  Then you’ll ask for seconds.

Rating: A-

Kick-Ass final movie poster

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  • MCd_lyte

    Your reviewing is such a perfect example of the feelings this film makes in me. I am kind of a caveman most of a time and say “Kick ass kicks so much ass” but you use more words and explain things for people who are smart and this is so good because everyone should see this movie even smart people.
    A new “Two Boners Up”© review for a TV show A Passion of a Christ 2-D: The Prisoner

  • Corin Prendiville

    I like that you mentioned the fact that Hit-Girl is indeed a CARTOON character. If she were real then we should all be disturbed, thankfully she is not, and we can all lay back and enjoy the absurd things she does and says.

    Moretz is definitely a rising star right now, as much as I hate the idea of a remake of Let The Right One In I don't think they could have chosen two better stars for the movie (Moretz as Eli and Kodi Smit as Oskar)… of course they are changing the names, the point is those two are the best child-actors right now and I can see them going really far.

    Can't wait to see this movie tonight, only 10 hours until show time. :] Got 4 of my friends coming to see it with me too, I've been talking about it a lot. I hope others have too, this is one movie I really hope does well in the box-office.

  • [A]

    and like I said, I have to wait till june — ain't that a bitch

  • cali00

    Finally, Kick-Ass is in theaters TODAY!!! Order your tickets online at then take a photo of yourself at the theater in costume or with your ticket stubs and post it on twitter with the hashtag #KickAssSwag for a chance to win cool Kick-Ass swag!

  • alcinasalls

    This movie doesn't look to me any kind of super hero movie, this people dont have powers and so it will be fun to watch them on the big screen. So when is this movie releasing, does anyone know the release date.
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  • Cynthia Kelly

    I thought the movie was fantastic!

    I was so happy with the movie I even did a little video, showing my enthusiasm:

    Thanks for the great review!


  • lapis

    the movie was entertaining but at the same time a huge disappointment. i have to laugh at all the reviews using the word “disturbing” to describe the movie since they took every disturbing element of the comic out of the movie. call me jaded but a cursing sword wielding ten year old doesnt disturb me;the real reason shes that way, thats disturbing, but they took that out of the movie. A ten year old doing coke because her dad told her its a secret government super soldier drug, thats disturbing, and absent from the movie. what daves female friend does to him after he confesses his love, thats disturbing, and taken from the movie. dave and bigdady are not meant to be likable or sympathetic characters. the filmakers totally changed the meaning of the story and took all the darkness from it. this could have been a very good movie that truly shocked, disturbed and entertained. instead its just another comic book movie.

  • kickingass

    Why do you think it's called KICK ASS, dumb ass? Because a ton of dastardly evildoers get their butts creamed! Hit Girl was awesome!

  • kickingass

    Why do you think it's called KICK ASS, dumb ass? Because a ton of dastardly evildoers get their butts creamed! Hit Girl was awesome!

  • hoseph

    how was she awesome that actress has to be 1 of the most annoyin little brat iv laid eyes on her and nichoulas cage really were the low points of the film.

  • Catsfeerme

    I'm not sure what I feel about the movie. I mean, the directing was great, the imagery insane, the actors believable…but I left the theater feeling angry for some reason. As great as the movie was, I couldn't really appreciate it to the degree that it deserved to be appreciated. I was infuriated by that part of the movie when Dave claimed that because he was getting it on with some personality-less supermodel-girlfriend, his life all of a sudden had meaning and he didn't want to be Kick-Ass anymore b/c now he had something to lose. I don't get it. He didn't have something to lose before? His friends? His dad? That wasn't enough? So once you find something you can stick your dick into your life suddenly has meaning? Why the hell did they even put her in there? Something for nerds to fap to? SCREW that. I was so irrated by that….it sucked the meaning and originality out of a fantastic film. It ruined the movie for me. It's like they almost reached something profound and then they fucked it up with some cliche' bullshit. It was frustrating. Maybe I'll just read the Graphic Novel. Maybe I'll find there what the movie missed.

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  • draxo

    Its a good movie, but the first half kind of let it down. It was beyond awkward to watch. I found myself looking away from the screen too often. Once things hit the fan, it becomes a good movie. However they could have cut out 90% of the first 30-40 minutes and the result would have been the same and the movies progression would have felt better.

  • Mr. Anonymous

    i just saw this movie(yeah…i didnt get all the hype)…………..and my verdic is……while this movie is entreteining……it makes no clear point of view about crime or superheros….they took the easy way and made a ballet show of blood using non standar character to make controversy and money…….i will classify this film dangerous………not for violence…..but just for the way they totaly change the main character kick ass in the movie climax….for a 11 year old girl……..making it atractive for grown ups…..this film cheat the audience and confuses them between good and wrong………so you cant have a clear point about this movie, instead they put this all flashy color on the screen to stimulate your senses and of course teenagers will like it………and i dont want to talk about how the 11 year old girl is lying on the table at the end of the movie while a man is hitting her………you can guess who else is going to like it., make no mistake, the producers and director did not made this film for art or put apoint of view to a discussion on the table…they made it for money and controversy…….want an outanding superhero movie……….just go and see Watchmen.

  • John’s Space

    I think that Kick-Ass was the best movie of 2010. I don’t think that it was disturbing or all that offensive. Nor, is it a real superhero movie. I think it is a brilliant satire of the whole comic/superhero concept. Certainly it isn’t realistic either.

    It is a very entertaining film and very well crafted. It really defies any simple characterization. We have wannabe costumed heroes who are really vigilantes. We have a mafia film. We have some clever tips of the hat to several classics of the superhero genre. It all just works.

  • fastpoose

    I love violent flicks, tarantino etc, but the director has had a bit of a shocker with this one. This movie would have hit the stratosphere if it DIDN’T have the extreme gore/violence. Especially most of it coming from an 11 year old girl. This movie had brilliant concepts but extreme violence wasn’t one of them.

    I still enjoyed this movie, but the gore definitely detracted from it, in my opinion.