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Kick-Ass (2010)
DIRECTOR: Matthew Vaughn
SCREENWRITER: Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn
MUSIC BY: John Murphy, Henry Jackman, Marius de Vries, Ilan Eshkeri
STUDIO: Lionsgate
RELEASE DATE: April 16, 2010
MPAA RATING: R
Since When Is It Funny for a Kid to Murder People?

Written by Chris Pandolfi

At the start of Kick-Ass, I couldnít help but feel somewhat excited, as I was introduced to the title character, who, when not dressed as a superhero, I found both engaging and amusing. While his thought process is not something I pretend to understand, the situations he finds himself in as a typical high schooler were somewhat relatable, and they got a chuckle or two out of me. But then we meet eleven-year-old Mindy Macready (ChloŽ Grace Moretz) and her father (Nicholas Cage); they stand in an empty lot, her wearing a bulletproof vest, him pointing a gun at her, all in an effort to train her as a crime fighter. He fires his gun, and thatís when the movie stopped being funny for me. But it isnít until she kills someone that I finally realized how deplorable it was.

A killjoy, am I? Youíll forgive if Iím not entertained by the sight of a kid murdering people, or of a kid being beaten within an inch of her life by big, mean men with guns. And Iím even less thrilled with the idea of a father training his child to be a ruthless vigilante, as if he were doing no more than showing her how to ride a bike. Yes, I know itís all done stylistically, that it doesnít represent reality, that the whole thing is supposed to be a satire on society and violence and today's internet culture, and yadda yadda yadda. But there does come a point when enough is enough. If Iím failing to see the genius in Kick-Ass, thatís fine by me, because I truly donít want to understand or even inhabit a world where underage carnage qualifies as something to be laughed at.

But before I go too far with this, let me take a moment to discuss the filmís first ten minutes, at which point I still had hope it would work. We meet teenager Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson), an unremarkable comic book reader who notes that, while just about everyone tries to be like their favorite celebrity, few try to be like a superhero. Of course, no one could ever be Superman, for he possesses extraterrestrial powers that exist only in the imagination Ė the ability to fly, superhuman strength, x-ray vision, etc. But what about someone like Batman, who has no superpowers? True, heís ultra rich and has access to high tech equipment, but heís still fallible. When Dave is mugged and a bystander fails to intervene, he decides to stop wondering and start acting; he dons a mail order green scuba suit and mask and adopts the alter ego Kick-Ass, New Yorkís newest crime fighter.

His attempts at preventing any kind of crime are disastrous, although he quickly becomes a sensation thanks to websites like YouTube and Myspace. This, I can buy: In Western society, anyone can have a taste of fame, even if that person happens to be incredibly untalented. But thatís where the satire stops. In due time, Dave crosses paths with Mindy and her father, who dress in flashy superhero suits have adopted the monikers Hit Girl and Big Daddy; both are so skilled at what they do that they seem like ... I was going to say genuine superheroes, but that isnít quite true since all the good ones have never resorted to shooting, stabbing, or throat slitting. However, their knowledge of martial arts is second to none, and so is their ability to jump across long distances and off tall buildings. In other words, they donít seem like ordinary people trying to be superheroes, so the filmís premise is now null and void.

Thereís also a subplot involving Big Daddy's target. That would be Crime boss Frank DíAmico (Erik Strong), whose son (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), somehow ends up as a patsy named Red Mist, created with the sole intent of luring in Kick-Ass and taking him down. All this could have been halfway entertaining if only it werenít so intertwined with the story of Hit Girl, who at one point finds herself running down a hallway in slow motion, single handedly blowing away an entire squad of well-armed hitmen in a blaze of bullets and blood. Had this not involved an eleven-year-old, I might have gotten into the sceneís choreography, which, I must admit, is quite impressive. Alas, Iím watching a girl who hasnít even entered puberty relentlessly killing people, something I wouldnít even want to try to enjoy.

If this truly is an accurate commentary on todayís media-obsessed youth culture, and if weíre still at a point when mass audiences find this kind of stuff entertaining, then Iím sorry to say we still have a long, long way to go. Under no circumstances should we be laughing at extreme comic book violence involving children, not at a time when weíre saturated with news stories about youth gangs and classroom shootings. Kick-Ass is a grave miscalculation, not only because of its content, but also because of the belief that itís a harmless, escapist action film. The more I think about the audiences that laughed from beginning to end, the sadder I get. Is it no longer fun to watch kids being ... well, kids?


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