This is Jeff Bayer, and I don't update this site very often. If you'd like to listen to my current movie podcast you can find it at MovieBS.com.

He Said - He Said ... 'Kick-Ass'

It's another installment of He Said - He Said ... and this one beats butt. Wow, that doesn't sound right. This one punches tush. Damn, that's not it either. Oh yes, it kicks ass. Piles of it. It's he (Nick Allen) vs. he (Jeff Bayer). As always, plots will be spoiled, key elements will be revealed, so be warned now, it's best to have seen the film before you read this. Let the games begin.

Complete coverage of Kick-Ass

He Said (Nick Allen)

Kick-Ass is an inappropriate title for this film, but not because it includes a semi-naughty word. Rather, "Kick-Ass" is misleading in that not much "ass" gets kicked - it is instead ridden with bullets, stabbed, blown up, and sometimes crushed by a car compactor, usually at the hands of kids who can't even legally drive. The different take that Kick-Ass turns the "comic book hero" mentality on is not really refreshing - it's a bit nauseating. The idea that these "heroes" in costume consistently choose murder (usually with a pretty cold temperature pumping furiously in their blood) over any sort of lawful activity, the idea that vigilantism is for p***ies (literally, cat saving, only), and the concept of watching an eighth grade girl kill human beings with nothing on her conscience but the rage that has been implanted into her by her psychotic father - all of these leave a bad taste in my stomach, one that I can not deny despite any favoring I have towards all that is "Bad-Ass," or even, "F**king Awesome." The characters of Kick-Ass are exactly what Kick-Ass himself jokes about in the beginning - they are either delusional (Kick-Ass thinks fighting is not something he should prepare for, and that's only one reason) or mentally unstable (Big Daddy and Hit-Girl are essentially natural born killers in disguise), and they are presented in a "comic book world" that puts kids into very realistic encounters with violence. As for the movie's look, the mixing of bright visual tones seen in a brutal and dark reality of violence creates a very odd shade of gray atmosphere for which the characters of Kick-Ass try to straight-up kill each other in.

I would be able to have more fun with the Shoot-Em-Up-like action insanity of moments with assassins like Hit-Girl and Big Daddy, were I not consistently hearing the word "subtext!!!" blaring in my head when watching a girl shoot and kill a whole gang and then admit that she's totally serious by saying "I never play." The fun I DID have with Kick-Ass, which usually came during a few moments of a borderline orgasmic gun-play or a funny one-liner that was probably said by Clark Duke, wasn't enough to level off the overall cloudy experience I had with the film.

He Said (Jeff Bayer)

What's that old man? You don't like rock 'n roll? And now you are upset after attending a concert, because of all that noise? Nick, I don't know what you think you were going to see with Kick-Ass, but it delivered. Yes, this film is violent. Yes there are moments where you can't believe what you are seeing (this normally involves the 11-year-old character Hit-Girl), but it's fun. This is fun violence.

The film had it's ups and downs, I'm not saying it's perfect. Though I do have to say, it captured what I think most superhero comic book fans are after. There was a new slant with a high school kid simply choosing to become a hero. Think about that sentence. Of course he is delusional. He's choosing to become a superhero even though he has no powers. So, with you being annoyed he doesn't have supreme awareness, I say that's accurate. That's intended. Think about what happens to him the first time he attempted to fight crime ... he ends up in the hospital.

And yes, Big Daddy has led the way for Hit-Girl to be mentally unstable, but that's where Chloe Moretz does such a great job with that character. She's somewhat centered. She's somewhat still a normal kid.

The movie chooses violence. You can wish for another film, but then you're left with something like Mystery Men. Are you upset because at first, you thought Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) was just like you, but then he started making decisions you didn't agree with? Plus, is Dave really that violent compared to Big Daddy, Hit-Girl and the villains?

I need you to give me more about your "subtext" argument. Because right now it's not registering. Probably because you even bringing up Shoot'Em Up - which is a bad movie, has got me all fired up. Add that to the fact that I'm ready to see Hit-Girl to unleash some more violence on the world. The kicking of the ass has just begun.

He Said

Negative. This isn't rock and roll - this is death metal. This is where the violence is more concerned with shocking you (in death metal's case, with lyrics) and is only fun to take-in during certain parts - the rest of it just beats on you, and tests your patience with the material.

Kick-Ass is not only delusional in that he is naive enough to think that he can create some sort of justice - he's also naive in a few unbelievable ways. Why does this superhero in a green suit walk around the streets in the open, when he at least could be biking? Isn't riding a bike more efficient, and a better getaway? Also, Kick-Ass doesn't seem to be that phased by the murder of the impersonator. That should've been the moment where reality REALLY hits him, (since the graphic knife wound didn't do the trick), and perhaps he gives up being a superhero, and goes back to fantasizing about his teacher. Instead, he keeps on. A naive imagination, created by reading comic books, isn't a good excuse for him to keep on especially when Frank D'Amico kills the Kick-Ass impersonator, in cold blood, in the streets, with no regret, and even murders a witness (this is also the moment where the movie admits that the violence is not thought of in a comic-book sense, but in our own reality.)

Hit-Girl. She's is a nightmare by concept. (Her executing is sometimes a bit more fun to watch when it is relieved by pop-punk music that adds enough aesthetic sugar on some of her moments of choreographed gunplay to give them some taste. For example, for a few seconds, when "Reputation" was playing by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, I was very into it.) But, overall, she is the product of her father’s cold-blooded hatred; a character that represents the nightmares we’ve had about kids that drop their videogames to go play with guns. In the scene where she rescues Big Daddy and Kick-Ass, part of her killing is shown in a first person shooter perspective, very similar to a video game. During this scene, it is also worth noting that she is being coached and supported by her crazy parent.

The youth that have been desensitized to violence are given a new spokesgirl with Hit-Girl, as she has 0% problem with killing someone. She represents our anxieties about whether the youth of today fully comprehend the seriousness of violence, both by committing the act and also observing the act. It is rather fitting, then, that she ends the film as a giant question mark - Now that the mission of her father has been fulfilled, has her craving for violence really been capped? And, what the f*** is she going to be like when she is older? I think you're being too fantastical when you say she's "somewhat stil a normal kid," especially when her inclination towards violence is preserved at the end of the movie when it is referenced that she beats up those two boys. How are we so sure it will stop?

All of these concerns about Hit-Girl and the statements underneath her made her "fun violence" not as enjoyable as I had hoped. Watching an 11-year-old girl disassociate "killing from life itself" (an idea once stated by Pauline Kael) isn't truly the kick-ass fun as this movie thinks it is. I'd say the idea of having a little girl be the most aggressively violent person in a movie is fresh - we haven't seen that before, certainly - but its intentions are rotten. Are things getting so dull that we really have to resort to letting an 11-year-old supply us the thrills of "unusual" action that keep the art of firing a gun interesting?

Shoot-Em-Up (a 5/10 or maybe a 6/10) was a movie that was creative with the way it had characters kill each other, and was also well choreographed with its gunplay in moments truly "fun violence." Kick-Ass was onto something like this. But then it fell short. To Moretz' height of 5' 2".

He Said

You've summed it up perfectly. Why didn't Kick-Ass ride a bike. That's what everyone will be thinking when they walk out of the theater. Ten-speed, mountain, road or old school dirt bike. That's the big, lingering question.

I'm not saying Kick-Ass is perfect, I'm saying it's fun.

Maybe you're wearing two hats at the same time. You realize there is a certain amount of fun with Hit-Girl, music, and killing. But then you oddly put on a societal-parent hat. You're buzz kill dad. You're defending our children from turning out like Hit-Girl. Look, I don't want kids to see this movie, but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy. I'm not worried about a teenage kid seeing this movie, and thinking he can score some youtube hits with some vigilante justice. Youtube brings up two problems I had with the film. The use of the internet seemed unrealistic. Over a million hits, plus a facebook page and only Big Daddy tracks him down? That's not happening. Plus, he's just able to confidently communicate back and forth with Red Mist. Yes, this is also where having Kick-Ass walk down the street in full costume is a odd choice. Though I will fully believe it's quicker to get away on foot if someone is coming after you. Think about it, if you're standing next to, or near a person, and they try to take off on their bike it takes a while for them to ramp up enough speed. In the mean time, you've run up to the side of them and are clearly in a better attack position. This guy can push you over, and choose to either beat up you or the bike. And we all know there's nothing worse than pushing a bike with a bent wheel.

I think I'm done with the running vs. biking decisions in Kick-Ass.

What I would have liked to see was a training montage or more crimes stopped at the hands of Kick-Ass. He really just has the youtube clip and that's it.

This makes me lean toward liking the Big Daddy and Hit-Girl storyline more. In fact, I find it impossible that you don't appreciate this story. A man training his daughter to seek revenge for the crimes against him is simply amazing. Especially when that comes in the form of an 11-year-old girl. That's a great, original idea, and it's sad this didn't work for you. Why isn't an 11-year-old allowed to kick the ass that men having been dismantling for years? I'm starting to think I need to send you some Depends and start looking for retirement homes where you can be in peace with your moving pictures on the talking box.

How about Cage channeling Adam West's Batman when he's in his Big Daddy costume? Or are you now going to revert to your actual age, and not even realize that's what he was doing because you're too young to remember? I assume you're not thrilled about the possibility of the sequel either.

He Said

I was careful in avoiding the "This is bad for kids!" card, because I agree that such an idea is stupid. Yes, we as grown men and women (apparently I'm older than you now) should be able to enjoy whatever R-rated adult entertainment is made for us. Even Ebert disappointed me by, as Harry Knowles put it, "fearing the possible damage that kids will suffer if they are allowed to see this film." I think that's a bad argument, especially since it takes much more than one movie to "damage" a kid. In fact, I believe that idea a bit of a cop-out. Hit-Girl is just a reflection of someone like Ebert's fears - she suffers from the kind of "damage" (I prefer "desensitization") he fears a little one would receive if they did see a lot of movies like Kick-Ass, play violent video games, etc. I don't want kids to see this either, but I know some will. Whatever. There's a bigger issue here, and that's what watching an experiment with violence like Hit-Girl (a bit like Funny Games) says about us as a mature audience of violence.

Though I have not completely thought this one out, it's more of an idea, I wonder if people's acceptance of a character like Hit-Girl would be changed if she were killed in combat. Would a movie like Kick-Ass with a little girl surrounded by violence then be considered cruel? Would such an event stretch the acceptable morality for even a comic book movie? I'm thinking this might be a reason as to why an 11-year-old can't "kick the ass that grown men have been dismantling (nicely put) for years." But for now I'll continue putting this conversation on a less analytical and more critical track.

The Adam West connection by Nicolas Cage was great. I think Cage always has a goofy edge to him (whether its intentional or not), and I am glad this is one of the examples where he decided to have some fun with an action role. I was waiting for him to whip out some Shark Repellant Spray, or say something in reference to that. Either way, the Adam West-ian tone of voice was very amusing, and so were many of the dorky one-liners he had. (Referring back to my mental age of 58, back in the late 60's, I used to watch the original series all of the time. In fact, I still have my ticket stub from when I first saw the movie, a few days after it came out. It was pretty groovy.)

As for a sequel, I'm very skeptical. In all likelihood I will see Kick-Ass 2, or even Kick-Ass 3, but more out of a desire to keep up with the big-deal films from Hollywood. Especially with Big Daddy gone, I wonder if the next movie will be more of kids beating up kids action. Talking to Aaron Johnson, who is the title character of the movie, he had me very curious as to what Christopher Mintz-Plasse will be doing in the second - could "McLovin" pull off the role of being a truly dark, ass-kicking bad guy? I'm skeptical, but curious. As for more Hit-Girl action, that's what I'm not so thrilled about. And for the love of god, don't give me Hit-Boy. Please. Don't.

What was your favorite scene in the entire Kick-Ass experience? Do you think that Mintz-Plasse has the ability to be a legitimately evil bad guy? I rarely took him serious through the entire thing, even when he pulled out a gun and threatened to shoot someone.

And as for me, Kick-Ass gets a very solid 5/10.

He Said

Kick-Ass is an 8/10, but this may surprise you. I'm not looking forward to the sequel. Of course I will see it, it's my job. I saw Miley Cyrus' The Last Song. There are a few things that stand out as far as the sequel goes. First, it appears Nic Cage won't be along for the ride. That means the father-daughter relationship that worked best for me in this film will be totally gone. We'll just have daughter. But we'll also just have a daughter doing more of the same I would assume. The unique concept of an 11-year-old becoming our fellow TSRer Morrow McLaughlin's new hero will be gone. With The Matrix at least the sequels could attempt (but still fail) to improve on the special effects. You can't have an 11-year-old go younger. I'm not seeing a toddler yielding a sword being the same kind of fun. Yes, I have my limits apparently. Also, Dave (Kick-Ass) hasn't really proven himself as a hero. Most importantly Mintz-Plasse as Red Mist didn't really work for me. And no, I don't see him ever pulling off a legitimate evil bad guy.

I'll end this with my favorite scenes. There are three that stand out. Kick-Ass and Red Mist driving around town and bopping their heads to the music was good times. Summed up how over-the-top absurd the whole thing is. Meeting Big Daddy and Hit-Girl while he's teaching her how to take a bullet was the greatest intro to characters so far this year. But the thing I could watch over and over again is Hit-Girl wading through (or killing, however you'd like to remember it) a sea of bad guys to "Reputation." I have to imagine I won't cheer that hard for a kid until I have one of my own.

Flicks on 6 - 'Kick-Ass,' 'Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,' 'The Joneses' and more

Episdoe 3 - Movie B.S. with Bayer and Snider - 'Kick-Ass' and more