Kick-Ass (2010)
(USA Release Date: April 16, 2010)
(UK Release Date: March 26, 2010)

It's better than a RESTAURANT with ASS in the name!!It's better than a RESTAURANT with ASS in the name!!It's better than a RESTAURANT with ASS in the name!!1/2

Actual Reality, Act Up... FIGHT CRIME!

J.C. Macek III... 

Misses US!
J.C. Macek III
The World's Greatest Critic!


In the last part of the last century, I used to joke about my daughter and I becoming masked crime fighters like a post-modern Batman & Robin. The problem was that I was really fat and that's just not realistic, man! Years later once I'd lost all that bulk I was flipping through my workout partner's bicycle catalogue and realized how much the tight-fitting protective gear looked like Superhero regalia. There were even MASKS, man! So I thought, for a very brief period, Hmmm... I'm in good shape now... fast, fit and strong! Maybe I could become a Costumed Vigilante after all now!

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I've got nothing to say I ain't said before. I've bled all I can I won't BLEED NO MORE!

But I didn't! You want to know why? Because I'm not a complete fucking Idiot, that's why!

Years after that a movie called Kick-Ass was released and I had no interest in it whatsoever. Some lame-ass Super Hero spoof with an even worse name? Thanks, but no. However, my daughter wanted to see it and, you know... so we went! I was wrong about Kick-Ass! This was no super hero spoof, in spite of the title and overly campy advertisements. In fact, Kick-Ass was one of the few films of its kind that actually gets it right... for the most part.

At first I was struck by the fact that Kick-Ass seemed to be trying really hard to ape (or satire) 2002's Spider-Man with its main character voiceover asking aloud who he is and outlining what a hopeless nerd he really is! And, trust me... he is. High-Schooler Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) is picked on at school, ignored by the ladies, spends his evening masturbating to images of his well-endowed teacher Mrs. Zane (Deborah Twiss) and his afternoons hanging out in a comic book shop with his even nerdier friends Marty (Clark Duke) and Todd (Evan Peters). The question on his mind is why nobody out there in the REAL world has ever thrown on a costume and become a costumed vigilante just like in the comic books.

Of course, if they spend all THAT much time in that comic shop, they would surely be able to tell you that Kick-Ass is based on a recent series of graphic novels published by Marvel Comics' Icon imprint from creators Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr.! They could probably also go on and on about the fact that Millar met director Matthew Vaughn and decided they to work on the film concurrently with the comic book before the first issue was even printed, that Vaughn wrote the screenplay with Jane Goldman and that the thirteen producers, including Millar, Romita, Goldman and Vaughn also included actor Brad Pitt! Yep... that's what Fanboys do, man!

And that's one of the reasons that, in spite of the standardized premise of the nerdy teenager becoming a masked hero, Kick-Ass soon pays off as one of the more realistic and believable Super Hero flicks ever made. You see, if anyone were to put on a costume and act like a comic book super-hero, it would most likely BE one of those very Fanboys, weaned on more comic books than one can shake a Billy Club at and devoid of anything legitimate to do in the evening time! That's what they would do! Well, them and complete fucking idiots! That's just what Dave does as he finds a wetsuit for a costume, fashions a matching mask and sets out on the streets to teach himself acrobatics and beat the crap out of a few bad guys. Just like in real-life, if a fanboy decided to slap on a costume and face off with armed thugs... he's terrible at it and he ends up in the hospital.

That's refreshing, actually. This dime-store Peter Parker doesn't suddenly wake up buff and agile and having somehow made an incredibly perfect costume with which to save New York City in once he's chosen a perfect superhero name. No, Dave's costume is ridiculous, his skills are more than a little wanting and his chosen superhero name... is "Kick-Ass"! Still, the man never gives up and it isn't long before he's noticed by the public, the press, the bad guys... and some other heroes.

That's another area in which Kick-Ass gets it right... the "real" vigilantes out there aren't flashy and looking to be examples for society. They avoid notice and do their best to keep hidden. And they have NO moral code that prevents them from killing the bad guys. In fact, killing the bad guys is ALL they want to do. Enter Damon MacReady (Nicolas Cage, a ways away from ever playing Superman now)! MacReady was that proverbial "One Good Cop" who, along with his partner Marcus Williams (Omari Hardwick) refused corruption until Martial Artist and Mobster Frank D'Amico (Mark Strong) took everything from MacReady from his freedom to the life of his wife to his reputation. Hence MacReady and his miraculously surviving daughter Mindy (Chloë Grace Moretz) suit up, arm up and gear up to take their boots off up Crime's ass as the Batman & Robin-like Big Daddy and Hit-Girl, respectively (hey, that sounds familiar).

In seeing their introduction, it was easy to see just how inaccurate most of the promotional material for Kick-Ass truly was... because while elements of farce and parody are certainly here, this is far from just some comedy or superhero spoof... Kick-Ass is truly brutal and there is a veritable fuckload of profanity and violence at every bloody corner. The media reacted in shock to the fact that Moretz, the voice of "Darby" in the recent Tigger & Pooh cartoons says "The C-Word(s)" in this movie... how about the fact that she drives bladed spears through gangsters' chests, dismembers mobsters, breaks limbs, shoots people in every known body part and out Brides the Bride from Kill Bill. Well, almost!

Naturally, the knowledge of "Real" Superheroes inspires more to come out of the woodwork (notably Christopher Mintz-Plasse's Red Mist), for better and for worse, regardless of the inherent danger therein and once the bad guys realize that they've got more than the Cops (like Xander Berkeley's easily bribed Detective Gigante) to worry about, Dave and his new friends might as well be wearing TARGETS on their costumes.

Luckily, the film never loses sight of its point and never becomes so unfocused that it devolves into the cheese fest that it so easily could become. Still, we are talking about comic book geeks turned superheroes and their psychotic compatriots, so naturally there has to be a little of the old Graphic Novel clichés thrown into the recipe. At times Kick-Ass does rely a bit too much on these. When the script calls for it, ineptitude is replaced with aptitude and kicked-asses are replaced by ass kicking. And, yes, of course, like in any good superhero coming-of-age story there's always the one unattainable girl that the secret identity wants and the hero gets (here in the form of the lovely Lyndsy Fonseca's Katie Deauxma). Yeah, at times it's just a silly superhero film that embraces what it both is and is not on every level. However, Kick-Ass manages to live up (or down) to its title and delivers what even the Watchmen film couldn't... realism mixed in with the fantasy and the campy comedy.

It's hard to believe that this movie as quite as good as it was, but it truly managed to balance comedy with gritty realism, believability and fantasy along with ultraviolence and a moralistic bend. Supporting players like Elizabeth McGovern, Yancy Butler, Craig Ferguson, Katrena Rochell and Garrett M. Brown don't hurt either, nor does the well-chosen music, especially John Murphy's 28 Days Later... reminiscent score.

Hey, by no means is Kick-Ass a perfect film, even considering the surprises and the successes therein... even by superhero flick standards... but considering all, this is a very good and entertaining film with enough action, fantasy and laughs to keep the popcorn crown interested, but enough gritty realism and believeability to keep things honest and prevent Kick-Ass from becoming a campy joke like the 1966 Batman or a far-too-serious yet questionable dark flick like The Dark Knight. At times Kick-Ass might take itself alternately too seriously or too lightly and the realism is hampered by convenience once or twice, but amid this variability the movie still manages to be exciting, entertaining, witty and even touching from time-to-time! Believe it or not, Kick-Ass is worthy of Three and One Half Stars out of Five! Hell, I almost gave it four, but you know me... I have to be... well... realistic.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to thumb through some of these weapons magazines, then glance at a few bike catalogues and maybe swing by Costume Castle with my only child... No reason... just feel like it! See you in the next dark, fierce reel... steel yourself... it's coming and it's KICK ASS!

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Kick-Ass (2010) reviewed by J.C. Macek III
Who is solely responsible for his own reviews
And for the fact that no matter what his fantastical wildness is tempered by reality...
Don't like it? See you in the next reel, BABY!
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I really believed we were forever... 2010 was to be OUR year... You know what? That's enough! I've done all I can.
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