Reviewed at the SXSW Film Festival
Who's In It: Aaron Johnson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Nicolas Cage, Chloe Moretz, Mark Strong, Clark Duke
The Basics: Comic book nerd Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) is your average, socially invisible teenager, until the day he takes a cue from Peter Parker and dons a makeshift superhero costume to fight crime. Despite his lack of training and fighting skills, Dave becomes a local celebrity as the brave vigilante hero Kick-Ass, drawing the attention of a lethal preteen heroine named Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz) and her father, Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage). Unfortunately, Kick-Ass also catches the eye of a local mobster (Mark Strong) who mistakenly thinks Kick-Ass is targeting his operation. Is the superhero racket too dangerous for a well-meaning wannabe crime fighter?
What's The Deal: Matthew Vaughn (Stardust) lovingly brings Mark Millar and John S. Romita's comic series to the big screen with an unabashed geekiness that will delight anyone who has a favorite superhero and lives (or has ever lived) in their parents' basement. But will anyone outside the fan boy demographic enjoy this ultra-violent ode to hero worship? It's hard to say, since Kick-Ass does balance its ridiculous premise with a real-world practicality and humor that should entertain all audiences; stars Aaron Johnson and Chloe Moretz are particularly endearing, even when beating and slashing their way through baddies while wearing the most unsubtly cheesy costumes since Batman & Robin. Unfortunately, the focus on would-be hero Kick-Ass only feels like a way to introduce us to Moretz's Hit Girl, who's the real reason to watch it at all; call the sequel The Awesome Adventures of Hit Girl, reduce everyone else's part to a supporting turn, and you've got a real winner.
How It Earns That R Rating: Elaborate action set pieces are dominated by gory, precise violence -- most often delivered by the 13-year-old Moretz wielding an assortment of guns, knives, and samurai swords with the dexterity of Uma Thurman in Kill Bill -- but, with a few exceptions, the carnage and loss of life is never given a second thought. Ask yourself this: Is the sight of a grown man punching a little girl disturbing if she gives as good as (and better than) she gets? The answer will tell you whether you should see Kick-Ass or wait for the Miley Cyrus weepie to come out next week.
Ever Wonder What Adam Lambert Would Look Like As A Superhero? Just take a gander at Christopher Mintz-Plasse's Red Mist, a crime fighter clad in head-to-toe leather, a glam-rock shock of red hair, and an eye mask shaped like a lightning bolt. The look aside, Mintz-Plasse begins to put his McLovin' days behind him with a fun turn that allows him to be not only nerdy, but empowered and nerdy for once. As all geeks should be.
Moments In Great Casting: Nicolas Cage. As Hit Girl's loving father, Cage is part Mr. Rogers, part drill sergeant, infusing Big Daddy with a kooky Adam West-verging-on-William Shatner sensibility. No father could ever shoot his daughter point blank for her own good with more love and sincerity than Cage. If you're thinking OMG AWESOME! then Kick-Ass is for you. If you'd like to call Child Services, it's not.