Sunday, April 25, 2010

Kick-A** was bad-a** after all

It's obviously perilous to predict your opinion about an upcoming movie, as I do every Friday, and as I did eight days ago with Kick-Ass. There's a good chance you'll be wrong, and you'll have to write a crow-eating blog post like this one.

Contrary to what I wrote last Friday, Kick-Ass was, most assuredly, bad-ass.

In fact, waaaaay too bad-ass for the South. I saw it in Savannah, Georgia on Thursday night.

About 12 hours before I saw it, I heard a morning DJ on the local radio station talking about a woman who had watched the entire movie with her kids, then demanded her money back. They likened it to eating the whole steak dinner, then asking for a refund. If there's one thing I'll fault Kick-Ass with -- and there may be only one thing -- it's failing to indicate the film's true level of brutality in the ad campaign. Apparently, the risque title wasn't enough for parents to keep their kids away. Parents needed to know that a 13-year-old girl kills several dozen people and utters the dirtiest word in the English language -- so dirty I'm not even going to write it here. (It's that one that feels like a kick in the stomach when someone calls you it, especially if you're a woman.)

And speaking of that title, when I got to the theater, I laughed at the lengths to which they'd gone, to protect us from the title of the very movie we were seeing. I understand censoring the poster -- it was a version of the one above, but with (if I remember correctly) ASS spelled A#$. (Wish I could find that online -- it was priceless.) I also understand censoring the name on the marquee, which read a very chaste "KICK A." Both of those iterations of the title are in the public domain, and anyone could be offended by them.

But my ticket stub was the coup de grace. Even on the stub it was censored: It read Kick-A**. Which is ridiculous, if you are merely trying to shield the general public. Wouldn't it stand to reason that the only people reading the name on the stub would be the people who had actually purchased the stub? Yeah, someone might see an errant stub on the ground, but the writing would be so small that they'd have to pick it up in order to register their shock.

This bums me out, because years from now, when I look at this stub, I sure hope I can remember what movie it was that I saw. Was it Kick-Arm? Kick-All? Kick-Ant? How about Kick-Axe? (Actually, that last one is a pretty good title -- it's like a mixture of "pick-axe" and "kick-ass.")

Ah, the South. So religious.

But instead of making this entire post about whether "ass" should really be considered a dirty word anymore, I thought I should devote at least a little time to ... praising this movie through the roof.

I don't want to give away too much -- for those of you who haven't seen it, you've got some wonderful surprises in store, which I don't want to ruin. But I should at least start by saying that this movie is absolutely not super cutesy and jokey like I worried it would be. And there's that advertising campaign again.

Like that angry parent described above, I was tricked by the ad campaign into thinking Kick-Ass would be not only a comedy, but a comedy appropriate for kids. No one is more glad than I am that it's not. In fact, this movie is raw, dirty, gross, shockingly violent, and yes indeed, both funny and sweet at times. But the humor is incidental. There are no bits that were designed for a big comedic payoff, and the actor I thought gave the greatest indication of the film's potential for silliness -- Christopher Mintz-Plasse from Superbad -- is in fact not comic relief here, not in the slightest. There's a scene in the ad where his character, Red Mist, is driving a tricked-out car and delivers one of those misleading lines: "That's right, we're superheroes. Love us." It's about the most whimsical his character gets in the whole movie.

And let's say a thing or two about Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz), the aforementioned foul-mouth tween. I haven't been this excited to see a tiny warrior flash some crazy moves since Yoda busted out his light saber in Attack of the Clones. I don't want to mislead you into thinking Kick-Ass warrants comparisons to Episode II in any way other than that -- this film is much, much better. And Moretz is one of its keys, as much the film's emotional center as the title character is. One of my favorite moments (small spoiler alert) that perfectly encapsulates the film's tone, a mixture of jauntiness and hardcore violence, is when Hit Girl and Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) have just finished compacting a car, with a nasty lowlife still inside of it. The guy is scrambling and screaming, and then he pops into a spray of blood inside the car. The compactor spits out the car in a nice cube that comes clanging to the ground. Hit Girl looks at the cube, shakes her head, and says "What a douche."

And when I laughed, it wasn't because the film was cutesy or silly. It was because it was wrong in all the right ways.

Or, to put it another way, it was bad-ass.

1 comment:

Don Handsome said...

I adore this movie as well, but I probably wouldn't have gone to see it if I hadn't heard advance buzz on how bad-ass it really was. Still, I was shocked by how the many kids were at the 9:45 PM showing I attended last Saturday Night. I'm not talking about high school kids...I'm talking about 5 year olds. This is not a movie for kids of any age, but there's something about the colorful palate and tone of the ad campaign that told many of Chicago's finest parents that it was cool for them to bring their kindergartners. So obviously, there's something wrong when a film called Kick-Ass appears to be family friendly...If they had called the flick "Fuck-You", maybe they would have scared some of the five-year-olds off...or maybe they should have just gone with red-band previews. I guess I think its a shame that the debate about how well/poorly this film has been marketed will dominate the headlines, whereas the real story is how fucking awesome this raucous masterpiece is.