First of all, I have to tell you that before Kick-Ass was released at the cinema, I had bright purple hair and a china doll haircut. I can only assume that Mindy Macready, AKA Hit Girl, was drawn squarely based on me. Alas, that’s where the similarities end. I’m twenty-seven, not eleven, and if I was in a fight I would probably just flail around crying, while Hit Girl would calmly and with a couple of sweary zingers dispatch of everyone in sight. Quite frankly, she is the most awesome thing in cinema. I am just the most awesome thing currently on this couch. (Truth as cat has vacated to the carpet and I only have to vie with two cheap cushions.)
Spider-man should just give up and get walking pout Tobey Maguire to pulp all copies of the DVDs. The Dark Knight should sell all its copies at a dollar each and use the funds to pay for the operation that Christian Bale’s voice box clearly needs. Iron Man can stick around (sequel pending) because it had what Kick-Ass did: great entertainment value. (I’m predicting a good April in the superhero genre.) Kick-Ass was the goriest, most curse-filled superhero movie I’ve seen, and all the better for it—it was different, but still satisfyingly familiar.
Everyteenager Dave hangs out with his two friends in comic book stores and pines after fellow classmate Katie. He wonders aloud why more people don’t become caped crusaders, helping their fellow man when they can—why everyone just turns a blind eye. His friends point out that it’s a dangerous idea, but Dave won’t let go, and after buying some gloves and a scuba-diving outfit online he tries his hand at becoming someone worth admiring.
Unlike She’s Out of My League, this guy’s friends are smart cookies. It is dangerous. An attempt to stop car thieves turns into a bloody and unexpected failure that is compounded when he stumbles into the path of an oncoming car. The end result is the closest to a superpower that any human could have, and with clearly no lessons learned, Dave—now Kick-Ass—takes it upon himself to stick up for the people, this time with a higher pain tolerance. But he’s not the only superhero in town.
Big Daddy is an ex-policeman, bitter and with the priorities of an eleven-year-old. Luckily for him, he has an eleven-year-old, his daughter Mindy (aka Hit Girl) whom he has educated in the ways of superheroicness. Her “homework” consists of comics and movies and the rest of their time is spent in training as they pick their way through drug dealers and criminals to get to the supervillain—well, an everyday villain—Frank D’Amico. D’Amico misinterprets Big Daddy and Hit Girl’s shenanigans as Kick-Ass’ doings, and decides he must be taken down. Enter new superhero/villain/D’Amico son Red Mist, desperate to demonstrate his evil worth while also being generally quite everyday himself.
The casting is fantastic; Aaron Johnson plays Dave, after a stint as John Lennon in Nowhere Boy. His blue eyes will make you come over all weak at the knees when he is otherwise ensconced in his superhero costume, and he plays Dave pitch-perfect as someone who, despite the star power around him, carries the movie by being utterly likable. Nicholas Cage is Big Daddy, and channels Adam West as a loving father who doesn’t see a problem with his daughter laughing, “I’m just fuckin’ with ya, daddy,” in a diner. Hit Girl herself is Chloe Moretz, whip-smart in (500) Days of Summer, and right now cooler than anyone else in film. Frank D’Amico is played by Mark Strong, who also did a fabulous evil turn in Sherlock Holmes, and a kind of lesser, acceptable evil in the underrated gangster flick Rocknrolla. Christopher Mintz-Plasse is Red Mist, doing well with what is surely one of his final roles playing a teenager now that he’s starting to look like a grown-up.
Bar a not entirely perfect green-screen ending, the stunts and special effects are great, the entire film is a whole stack of ridiculous fun, while also retaining a sense of the ordinary. Dave’s relationship with Katie, who believes he is gay and takes him under her wing, has the exact right awkward chemistry that teenage relationships do. Dave’s pals are normal but hilarious and their friendship strikes the right chord. The major players in the film are all clearly a tad batshit insane to be doing what they do, but all are human beings, from Hit Girl making her father a hot chocolate and the way he clearly worships his daughter, to D’Amico taking his son to the movies (and, in a quietly hilarious scene, discussing what snacks to get in the car outside his factory, pausing only for the screams of someone inside being tortured.) The splatty and kaboomish ending is the kind that could bring on a round of applause from cinemagoers. Both ordinary and extraordinary, Kick-Ass is a great night out, though not for the faint-hearted or anyone who will call child services on account of Chloe Moretz saying the c-word. Which, I discovered, is alarming no matter how prepared you are for it.