A rare parody that mostly flies
What boy or girl has not at some point imagined themselves as a super hero? How many have looked for a way to achieve a portion of their dream as a costumed, but (super) powerless hero by being a good neighbor and sometimes fighting crime?
Actually, adults have in various states and countries donned a costume, sounded off a name, and spoke through an alter ego as a high profile advocate of community needs.
“Kick-Ass” does not go for a reality vision, no, it’s an order the costume, work out, take beatings and reassess why am I doing this?
Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson), a high school nerd dealing with the death of his mother, rises from a ritual of weekly visits to a comic book store with friends after street ruffians rob them of money, phones and their comics.
Dead-pan spoofs, be it of super heroes, physicians or air flight, are among the most difficult film genres to achieve success. Generally, filmmakers have more comfort (and laughs) mocking other filmmakers (i.e. “Scary Movie”) than a fresh start-from-scratch scenario.
“Kick-Ass” mentions Peter (Spiderman) Parker and Bruce (Batman) Wayne, but aside from the cool, racing red vehicle and an inadequate attempt to create a bat-signal, the film teeters more on the fringes of vigilantism versus heroics.
Laughs often become ‘oh that hurt’ chuckles as the action segments do not mock superheroes. No, the appearance of Big Daddy (Nicholas Cage) and Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz), both well trained with weapons and kickboxing, successfully harvest and further a media frenzy for costumed, though bleeding, heroes against all odds defeating organized crime gangs.
Hit Girl has gained a rep for spouting toilet language not suitable for an actress her age. She’s the glue that holds this work together, or, shall I say, maintains the sense of parody, especially her school-girl ruse to infiltrate the bad guy’s tower.
Considering the overzealous venom of her vengeance-minded dad, they convey an exaggerated pair of near opposites. As for the unprintable four letter words, since the little lady utters them for ‘shock’ value once each, they are forgivable, especially as she menaces bad guys with her experienced, coordinated kicks, punches and (surprise) body-shielding armor upon which all bad dudes stumble.
Some suggest the explicitly carved violent clashes (which leave the young kid squeaky free of harm) do homage to the wanton over-kill of Quentin Tarantino; if so it’s subtle, as Quentin tends to imply much more with his murder, mayhem and occasional redemption tales. Missing are send ups to Tarantino’s un-dead and B-movie swats. Per chance, the parallel be seen more narrowly, that is, “Pulp Fiction” and “Sin City?” Cage’s big guns and lots of ammunition “artist” character could parachute onto either of those canvases, but super stupid nerd Johnson and Miss killing sweetness represent antithesis, except for physical endurance and Hit’s mounting body count.
No, this is a comic hero world seen through the still virginal thoughts and immature emotions of individuals whose state of naively has out grown Santa and the Tooth Fairy but still cling to truth, justice and the legend that unpopular kids will eventually overcome. Careful watching illustrates this ultimate bully-busting anthem.
Before the arrival of Mafia-styled organized crooks, Kick-Ass fathoms overcoming his own shyness, his opposite sex forsaken image and his proneness to victimization.
The character’s roof top testing has Spider Man implications, but the predominance of middle and high school age fans (including strong parental influences) tell me this Beta-test has more in common with a junior Paul (Death Wish) Kersey than Kill Bill.