“Kick-Ass” is the movie our parents warned us about, the movie you don’t want your children to see. A highly seductive enterprise that’s equal parts disturbing and enticing, it will leave you speechless because its characters — especially a 12-year-old virtuoso of violence named Hit Girl — are anything but.
This shrewd mixture of slick comic-book mayhem, unmistakable sweetness and ear-splitting profanity is poised to be a popular culture phenomenon because of its exact sense of the fantasies of the young male fanboy population. Directed by Matthew Vaughn and written by Jane Goldman and Vaughn, this comic-book-come-to-life was not just based on a book by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr., but made at the same time the original comic was being created.
“I never understood why nobody did it before me,” says teenage protagonist Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) in the voice-over that starts things off. What “it” is in this case is making the decision to present yourself as a superhero even though, as the young man says, “my only superpower was being invisible to girls.”
So it’s more than the desire to “put on a mask and help people” that turns Dave into Kick-Ass, an earnest young crime fighter in an odd-looking wetsuit. He wants to impress the opposite sex, especially fetching classmate Katie Deauxma (Lyndsy Fonseca), who at first doesn’t notice him and then comes to believe he’s gay.
We’ve seen this kind of high school bildungsroman, including the currently mandatory references to masturbation, more times than anyone can count, but here the scenario is helped by the genuinely likable nature of the leads and by the fact that the romance provides an appealing backdrop that the more unnerving aspects of the film play out against.
It’s not by accident that it’s rated R for, among other things, “strong brutal violence throughout (and) pervasive language.” For after events conspire to make Kick-Ass an Internet phenomenon who ends up fighting all kinds of crime, the bad guys take notice and strike back…
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– Kenneth Turan
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