Friday, April 23, 2010


I went in expecting a comedy about teen-aged angst and got it, and then some.

What I didn’t expect was the powerfully dark story woven in and around the comedy.

Hats off to the director, Matthew Vaughn, who has skillfully woven the two threads together. Many a film tries its hand at this and fails. But “Kick-Ass” more than succeeds, which makes for a delightful and thoughtful movie-experience.

Based upon a comic book of the same title, (written by Mark Millar and illustrated by John Romita Jr., and published, of course, by who else, but Marvel), it clearly has that comic-book feel – striking images, powerfully developed characters with a lot of quirks, teen-aged angst, of course, some masturbation humor and plenty of well-choreographed violence – “sickening violence just the way you like it” (as it says on comic-book cover).

The story is basic: a geeky, nerdy, highschool boy wonders why no one has evertried to be a super-hero. His equally out-cast buddies tell him, “Only in the comics – and besides, they have super-powers.” David Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) fires back, “Batman didn’t have super-powers.” They rejoin, “Yeah, but he had all that money to buy what he needed.”

Oh well … so David orders a green and yellow wet-suit, some Ninja clubs, performs powerfully in front of his bedroom mirror, and then off he goes to set the world right, only to be stabbed in the stomach and get the crap beat of out of him in his first effort of crime-fighting – trying to stop a couple of punks from breaking into a car. He staggers into the street and is slammed by a car. Not wanting anyone to see his costume, he asks the medics to throw it away before they whisk him off to the hospital for a series of operations to implant a variety of metal parts and a long rehab, with some interesting results: he’s sort of a bionic man and some damaged nerve endings inure him to pain.

The medical report notes: “Naked when he entered the hospital” – and that sets up and interesting scenario. His not-to-bright father wonders if he’s gay, and when the word gets back to school, the girl he’s always wanted takes and interest in him because he’s safe. Oh well …

As soon as he’s out of the hospital, he dons the costume again, hits the street to right all wrongs, and stops a beating – but it’s videoed by an-looker who posts it to the internet. Yup, you guessed it – it goes viral.

David d

evelops his own “Kick-Ass” website, and pretty soon “Kick-Ass”is the talk of the town. “If you need help, contact me.”

It isn’t long before he’s tangled up in some pretty rough stuff, and who should come to his rescue, but a 10-year old girl who knows more about guns and knuckles that anyone - well-trained in martial arts and weaponry by her sweetly loving, but slightly deranged, father, who’s also an ex-cop and (oh yeah), a comic-book illustrator, known as Big Daddy, played as only Nicolas Cage can deliver!

Her name, Mindy Macready (named after the country-western singer and reality star of the same name?), or Hit-Girl, played with amazing aplomb by Chloe Moretz. With her Eastwood-snarl, and cheap purple strip-club wig, she’s one tough cookie, a force to be reckoned with. Her father “shoots” her with a big-caliber handgun, knockingMindy off her feet. What? Oh, but she’s wearing a bullet-proof vest, and Big Daddy is training her to take a hit.

The bad guys are bad – Mark Strong captures the cold, venomous, demeanor of a high-end drug kingpin on top of the city’s drug trade, and his slightly geeky son who wants in on dad’s business, played well by Christopher Mintz-Plasse.

On the road to the end, lots of mayhem and death, a hot car, subterfuge and betrayal, a fire and a gatling gun. Hit-girl does her stuff, gets into trouble, and is saved by Kick-Ass. What a team. Oh yes, did I mention the geeky son of the drug dealer? He’s going to be the next super-hero, bad guy, Red Mist! Seeking revenge. Can we wait for the next installment?

It’s all rather complicated, as comic-book stories usually are, and as life mostly is. Yet at the core of the story, it’s all about identity and a young man’s dream to make a difference.

I went expecting good afternoon entertainment and found a gem of a story well-told.

Worth seeing, for sure!