Craig's First Take: "Kick-Ass 2"

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The costumed high-school hero Kick-Ass joins with a group of normal citizens who have been inspired to fight crime in costume. Meanwhile, the Red Mist plots an act of revenge that will affect everyone Kick-Ass knows.
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“Kick-Ass” is all pop culture, no common sense. In it, bored couch potatoes finally stop playing Warcraft long enough to don ridiculous outfits and be super heroes. At times, “Kick-Ass” seems to know what a bad idea this is (these people actually inspire more crimes as thugs attack them in hopes of Youtube fame) but it also wants you to think it’s cool, which leads to deeper problems. It uses “Saw”-like violence and takes irreverence to a whole new level. But then it says “relax, we’re just doing a live-action cartoon.” Everything here is at odds with everything else and nothing works.

These superheroes are inspired by Dave (Aaron Johnson), Kick-Ass to some but Ass-Kicked if you’ve ever seen him fight. Dave continues to be the worst super-hero ever but he continues on the journey, presumably scoring moral victories the bloodier he gets. His partner Hit-Girl (Chloe Moretz) is 15 now, her catch phrase is whatever comes out of her gutter-mouth and her super power is sadism. Her step-father (Morris Chesnut) wants her to be more like a girl, causing her to sneak around until she is eventually forced to give up crime-fighting for another evil- dealing with High School mean girls.

Dave meanwhile is joining a “Justice League”, led by former Mob enforcer Col. Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey). They’re crime-fighters, but also people who talk about the tragedy of losing their sons and finding their dead sisters in a dumpster. It’s affecting, until the jokes about oral and anal sex. There is also all the poop, vomit, and vulgarity you could ask for cause hey, this is what passes for satire these days. The villain here is Chris (Christopher Mintz-Plasse, going emo-crazed), who lost a father from the first film and here has a super villain costume that makes him look like a dominatrix’s gimp.

Carrey refused to do any promotion for the film, saying he couldn’t support this level of violence after Sandy Hook. Moretz countered with a “stop being an idiot, it’s a movie.” Both are wrong.

There’s no way to take this thing seriously enough as a motivator for violence, it’s too cartoonish to even take seriously as an action film, and the blood and brutality is still so overblown (at one point a lawnmower is even used proving these movies are more concerned with bigger deaths than actual thrills), the characters so delusional, and the near-absence of any real wit just make it impossible to get behind.

Even odder is filmmaker Jeff Wadlow doesn’t seem to know whether he wants Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl to have a brother-sister relationship or a romantic one, but then again, considering how this thing just screws with all kinds of sensibilities, it’s probably good that they at least believe in the “wait til 18” rule. There’s an audience for something like “Kick-Ass” apparently, but I just wonder how many people are ignoring the tedium and poor taste in favor of looking cool.