Sunday, April 18, 2010

Mrs. Amanda Reviews KICK-ASS

Awesomeness, thy name is Hit-Girl.

Kick-Ass was not at all what I expected - although the movie is based on a comic book, so if I had taken two minutes and did a little Internet research before heading off to the theater, I wouldn't have been so surprised.

Frankly, the trailers and posters for this movie do not do it justice.  They make it look like a nerdapalooza comedy, where geeks dress up like superheroes and hilarity know, She's Out of My League, but with few boobies.  The actual Kick-Ass is a violent,  foul-mouthed, smart film created in the image of a modern-day true action comic book - think of the recent Batman franchise with brighter costumes (and I'm sure there will be plenty of tits once the unrated version heads to DVD).

The storyline starts out fairly simply: After a bystander watches him get mugged without stepping in, a teenage geek decides to bring personal responsibility back to the common man by dressing up in a wet suit and protecting those in need.  And that's when the story takes a twist, and our new superhero finds himself unwittingly embroiled in a saga of revenge that includes an ex-cop and his badass daughter and a mob boss and his son.

By far, the best part of the film are the actors and the characters they play.  Kick-Ass (Aaron Johnson) is less of your stereotypical nerd and more of a boy who has yet to fully hit puberty and figure out who he is as a person.  His character isn't strong or tough, but he is brave - a quality the Average Joe often lacks. His sweet, innocent love interest, Katie (Lindsy Fonseca), lives in a pink and fluffy bedroom and dates abusive guys who frequent the local needle exchange.  The aforementioned ex-cop and his daughter are secretly Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage, who blessedly manages to keep his character understated, despite the Batman costume) and Hit-Girl (Chloe Moretz) respectively.  The eleven-year-old Hit-Girl is by far the scene-stealer in Kick-Ass; she throws the most dangerous punches, fires off the most accurate shots, and delivers some of the most pithy  and unexpected lines.

The trailers wrongly make it seem like Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) is part of the "good" gang; instead, he is the son of the mob boss, trying hard to prove to his unwilling father that he has what it takes to  run an evil empire.  The Red Mist character was the biggest surprise for me. Mintz-Plasse is best known for his roles in Superbad and Role Models, where he plays the nerdiest of the nerds, the most likely to end up with a pocket protector and a pair of taped glasses.  Instead, Red Mist is as cunning, determined and coldhearted as his father.  When they finally meet, Kick-Ass tells Red Mist, "You are not what I expected."  Very true.

While the movie is funny - one of Hit Girl's best greetings is "Okay you cunts, let's see what you can do now!" - the humor comes as a reaction to the darkness and less from the typical slapstick comedy.  Don't expect to hear any fart jokes in this one.  And the violence...while most of the really gruesome deaths, are off-screen there are plenty of throat slits and beatings that give this movie a R rating.

If you like the Christian Bale Batman movies, I would highly recommend Kick-Ass.  But if you're going to this thinking you're going to see a spoofed and cutsie version of Spider-Man, maybe How To Train Your Dragon is more your speed.

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