Movie Man: ‘Kick Ass’ puts twisted spin on superheroes
It’s easy being a superhero. If, that is, you have powers or money.
Take Superman and Spider-Man. They wake up in the morning, and they’re fully powered and ready to save the world. Or take Batman and Iron Man. They might be mere mortals, but once they’ve surrounded themselves with a billion dollars’ worth of crime-fighting equipment, they’re virtually unstoppable.
However, if you lack both powers and money, being a superhero is a much tougher gig. That’s the premise of “Kick Ass,” the non-super-hero action comedy that just arrived on DVD and Blu-ray.
Based on the comic book by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr., “Kick Ass” tells the story of Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson), a geeky high-schooler who, one day, decides to slip on a costume and fight crime. Naturally, he gets beaten up — badly. He winds up in the hospital, and, after extensive surgery, discovers his deadened nerve endings and plastic bones are just what the doctor ordered. The next time he foolishly confronts some bad guys, he gets beat up again, but now he can take it. What’s more, he becomes an Internet sensation, inspiring fellow foes of evil to slip into costume and join his fight. And that’s where “Kick Ass” really comes to glorious, goofy, over-the-top life.
Watching Dave’s crusade against crime is fun, but seeing these new heroes in action is even better. Big Daddy, a dark avenger who’s not shy about killing the bad guys, is a lot of fun, especially since Nicolas Cage delivers his lines just like Adam West did on the “Batman” TV show. But the show is stolen – repeatedly and effortlessly — by Big Daddy’s sidekick/daughter, Hit Girl.
Played by Chloe Moretz, Hit Girl is a foul-mouthed, pint-sized dynamo who’s more than a match for a room full of heavily armed nasties. Seeing her pinwheel through them, leaving a trail of twitching bodies in her wake, is thrilling and hilarious, mostly because the fact that Moretz is so young.
Should an elementary-age girl fight like that? Swear like that? Probably not, but it works like a charm in the world of “Kick Ass.”
Naturally, there’s an overarching story involving a crime kingpin, a revenge plot and a final, no-holds-barred battle scene. It’s something we’ve seen in almost every superhero movie ever made, but even those cliches feel a bit different here, thanks to the down-to-earth heroics of Kick Ass and his compadres.
What they do is dangerous, desperate and, in at least one case, deadly, but even with all the blood spilled and bruises acquired, it still looks like a lot of fun. The movie should’ve ended with the words “Don’t try this at home.”
Will Pfeifer writes about DVDs for the Rockford Register Star. Contact him at email@example.com or 815-987-1244. Read his blog at blogs.e-rockford.com/movie man/
From the Vault: More screwed-up superheroes
“Mystery Men” (1999) Ben Stiller, William H. Macy and Hank Azaria lead a group of hapless, sort-of-super-powered heroes trying to save big-name crime-fighter Captain Amazing (Greg Kinnear) from the clutches of a supervillain (Geoffrey Rush). Spoiler alert: They fail.
“The Specials” (2000) The “sixth or seventh greatest superhero group in the world” battles membership conflicts, merchandising woes and other mundane menaces in this amusing low-key comedy starring Rob Lowe and Thomas Haden Church.
“Special” (2006) Michael Rappaport plays a schmuck who thinks his medication has given him super powers. It hasn’t, but that doesn’t stop him from slipping on a costume and trying to fight crime. (Not to be confused with “The Specials,” by the way.)
Make room in your collection
Some DVDs out Tuesday:
“Crumb”: A fascinating — though occasionally uncomfortable — portrait of the underground comics genius. Look for a review of the Blu-ray in an upcoming Movie Man column.
“Horror High: 35th Anniversary Edition”: And you thought your high school reunion was tough to get through.
“The Joneses”: David Duchovny and Demi Moore play a fake family aimed at tricking the neighborhood into buying expensive products.
“Max Headroom: The Complete Series”: This darkly funny science-fiction series was decades ahead of its time.
“Nightmare Alley”: A collection of short horror films, and not (unfortunately) the 1947 Tyrone Power film noir classic.
“Prince in the 1980s”: Music, interviews and more with the guy who helped shake up pop music a couple of decades ago.
“Things”: I once proclaimed this the worst film ever made. I stand by that opinion.
Emily West, “Emily West”: A lot of unimaginative album titles this week. Here’s the first.
Soundtrack, “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World”: If you ever wondered what Scott’s fictional band, Sex Bob-Omb, really sounds like, here’s your answer.
Soundtrack, “Predators”: Once again, we’ve got a soundtrack album arriving in stores weeks after the movie has bombed in theaters.
Brother Clyde, “Brother Clyde”: Second in a series of unimaginative album titles.
Angelfire, “Angelfire”: And the trend continues.
Budos Band, “Budos Band III”: At least these guys put a Roman numeral after the name. It’s a slight improvement.
Laurence Juber, “LJ Plays the Beatles Vol. 2”: Give Laurence a break. It’s not like the Beatles are playing those songs anymore.
Judy Garland, “Lost Tracks 1929-1959”: If you’re a fan of Judy Garland’s musical talents, this boxed set is all you.