PLOT: Dave Lizewski (Johnson) is a nerdy, nondescript high school kid who decides one day that he wants to be a superhero and fight injustice. So, he buys a green scuba suit and morphs into Kick Ass, his crime-fighting alter ego. His antics land him on the news and he catches the attention of real-life superheros Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz). So much fun, it's probably illegal in several states.
WHO'S IT FOR? A better question is "who isn't it for?" If you're old enough to see an R-rated movie and you have ever enjoyed a single superhero movie, you are required by law to see Kick Ass. I'll just warn you now, the fines are steep.
EXPECTATIONS: Zilcho. I had no idea going in.
Aaron Johnson as Dave Lizewski/Kick Ass: Johnson was the perfect Kick Ass, because he looks like he's right on the cusp between nerdy boy and nerdy man. He's got that pubescent je ne sais quoi about him and when he's peeking out of that scuba suit with his wide blue eyes, it's a riot and it's endearing. There he goes, striding down the street in what basically amounts to a green jumper and he's just as proud as punch to be out in the daylight dressed like that. I can't say that Aaron Johnson's persona will easily carry over to other roles, because I haven't seen him in anything else. However, I won't sell him short and I'll conclude by saying the filmmakers found a most excellent Kick Ass. Score: 9
Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Chris D'Amico/Red Mist: It's not that this character is that interesting by himself, but you get Mintz-Plasse to play him and suddenly it's golden. I can't think of another actor who has capitalized so brilliantly on being the nerdiest-looking and sounding human being in the known universe and then somehow making that cool. Obviously, our love affair with Mintz-Plasse started with McLovin and then carried over to Augie Farks from Role Models, but now he's the twisted bad guy. I can't think of someone less sinister to play Red Mist, but Mintz-Plasse brings his usual awkward, nerdy charm to Kick Ass. Score: 9
Nicolas Cage as Damon Macready/Big Daddy: Nicolas Cage used to be the sh*t, but something has definitely gone wrong in his universe as of late. These days, when you see his name attached to the movie, you probably (like me) assume he's going to manage to ruin it somehow by either hamming it up or playing it so deadpan that you're not sure if he might be on horse tranquilizers. Not so with Kick Ass. I LOVED him as Big Daddy. He's already kind of a weirdo, so they put him in a movie where it plays up his weirdness almost lovingly. He's supposed to be slightly off. He's had a rough couple of years and it's left him kind of wonky. His chemistry with Moretz is phenomenal. I truly, truly loved these two as a duo. Score: 9
Chloe Moretz as Mindy Macready/Hit Girl: Wow, I love this actor and I love this character. Holy wow, it's true. Chloe Moretz was the only enjoyable part of Diary of a Wimpy Kid (she played cool alterna-girl) and now she gets to wear all-purple and play with giant guns and really gnarly-looking switchblades. Again, there's something really wrong with loving it as Hit Girl squishes a guy in a car compactor and then sighs, "What a douche-bag," but it's that totally freakin' awesome kind of wrong, like eating an entire pizza by yourself or streaking through a stadium seated at full capacity. Score: 9
TALKING: The writing was fantastic. There are some really terrific lines in this movie, the kind that are so fresh and unexpected it's a bit like a punch in the stomach. My very, very favorite line: "I was about to understand what every serial killer already knew--at some point the fantasy just isn't enough." Okay, so it sounds morbid out of context, but it's freakin' HILARIOUS in the scene. Also, and I know this is a cheap gag, whenever Chloe Moretz opens her sweet, innocent little mouth and talks like an angry longshoreman it's a riot.
SIGHTS: The editing is just as playful as the rest of the movie and it takes the entire experience up a notch. When Kick Ass is explaining the differences between his life and most other superheroes lives, the movie juxtaposes forced melodrama over his normal routine. It doesn't make fun of other superhero movies because the whole movie is almost one big love letter, but the homages are definitely having fun with the genre. Did I mention the climactic fight scene at the end? Did I mention how I came straight home and put Hit Girl wallpaper up on my computer and how I gaze at her adoringly each day and relive the climactic fight scene? Think matrix but with an 11-year-old girl and know that you're going to hate yourself for loving it as much as you will. Score: 9
SOUNDS: The score was awesome. It ranges from Elvis Presley to Prodigy and it's almost always the ideal complement to the scene at hand. It was especially momentous for the filmmakers to use "Bad Reputation" by the Hit Girls for (you guessed it) Hit Girl's big boss fight at the end. There is one semi-strange moment between Mintz-Plasse and Johnson where they are rocking out in a car to Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy," but it's still too much fun because of the actors. Even the flaws are fun. Score: 10
BEST SCENE: Hit Girl. The boss's headquarters. A big gun with a silencer and a Catholic school girl's uniform. Can't really talk in full sentences right now.
ENDING: Wonderful. Loved it. Came too soon, although any ending to this movie would've been too soon for me. I want a sequel called The Chronicles of Hit Girl so I can just follow these people around all their movie lives. One thing Kick Ass does that actually disappointed me...what, no sequels? Really? You're not going to sell out when everyone else is doing it? Come on, everyone else is doing it!
QUESTIONS: Why does Nicolas Cage seem to be trying out a William Shatner impression? Why the odd pauses?
REWATCHABILITY: I could easily watch this movie a half-dozen more times and not get tired of it.
Kick Ass is like drinking too much and going out dancing with a huge group of friends; and so what if you wake up naked and sprawled out in the middle of the grocery store the next day? The first thought that goes through your head is "Kick ass! Let's do it again!" It's so fun, it makes you feel dirty for liking it, like you should go to confession and admit that you sort of like watching an angelic 11-year-old girl impale some thug with a double-headed machete and what does that say about you? It says you rock! Embrace that goofy darkness and roll with it, baby!
Okay, I know I've given this speech before but...when I was growing up, girls in movies were meant for falling and twisting their ankle at inopportune times. Like, they're all running away from the giant mutated cockroach and oopsies! Down she goes and now the hero has to carry her and some other poor sap will likely die because of slippery-shoes over there. That's what I grew up seeing...those were my role-models. I specifically took to writing so I could create the strong female characters I never saw in movies. I was starving for some bad ass chick. So when I see an 11-year-old who looks like she stepped out of a Botticelli painting wearing a purple wig and wielding dual pistols, my inner-child lets out such a triumphant roar that I am filled to the tips of my toes with joy.
But it's watching the uber-nerds finally get to be the hero and the bad guy. Christopher Mintz-Plasse quoting the Joker? It's so cool, I must've dreamt it up. It couldn't have really happened that way. And, yes, Kick Ass spends the majority of the film being a bit of a lame-o (understandably so), but he reaps some wicked revenge at the very end that is so immensely satisfying after all the trials and tribulations. When are you ever going to see the scrawny, pimply geek in a scuba suit and think, "You go with your big, bad self, you awesome pimply geek, you!" Rarely ever. So, take that big, brawny and beautiful superheroes who always have some ironic one-liner up their sleeve, because they so aren't the average guy--you're passe and boring. Trot out the costumed dweebo wanna-be!
Kick Ass truly does kick a whole lotta ass and I cannot recommend it to you enough. Seriously, go have some mega-fun.
FINAL SCORE: 9/10