Share This Page

Review: Moody 'Kick-Ass' embraces its fanboy origins

It could be self-mocking or it could be mocking the very people who keep comic book stores and movies in business. The tone of this latest comic-book adaptation to reach the big screen never settles that argument and never finds its sweet spot.

But when you name your comic and then the movie made from it "Kick-Ass," "tone" isn't at the top of your "Things I'm fretting over" list.

An awkward blend of ultra-realistic violence, boundaries-bending satire and low comedy, Mark Millar's comic becomes a Matthew Vaughn ("Layer Cake," "Stardust") movie in which not everybody in the cast is on the same page or even the right page.

It's about a nerdy, bored teen (the bland Aaron Johnson), "the perfect combination of optimism and naivete" who decides, since he doesn't have a girlfriend, to spend his free time fighting crime in greater New York. He orders a custom wet-suit "costume," invents a name for himself — "Kick-Ass" — sets up a MySpace page for requests and fantasizes fights in front of the mirror.

"Like every serial killer you ever knew, eventually fantasizing doesn't do it for you anymore."

Next thing you know, he's sticking his nose in the middle of fights. One of them is videotaped, and this not-quite-competent vigilante (he's willing to take a beating for justice) becomes a worldwide Web phenomenon. If only the girl he adores (Lyndsy Fonseca) didn't think he was her new "gay BFF."

Meanwhile, a creepy single dad (Nicolas Cage) is training his 11-year-old daughter to help him kick-you-know-what and take names. And call names. "Hit-Girl" (Chloe Moretz) has a wicked kick, a ruthless streak and a potty mouth.

Mark Strong (Sherlock Holmes' nemesis) plays a local crime boss whose nerdy son (Christopher Mintz-Plasse, less funny than you'd expect) wants to help dad deal with his "super-hero problem."

There are explosively funny scenes and moments — often involving an unexpected beat-down — followed by many more moments that make you wince. Some jokes don't land and most of the cast isn't "out there" enough to make this work. And frankly, comic book writer Millar put an 11-year-old girl in this heroic, object-of-fantasy guise as a full-force slap in the face of fanboydom, which has its warped, fetishize-little-girls-in-school-uniforms side.

Four words that come to the rescue — Nicolas Cage gets it. He plays his gun-nut/gadget-nut/crime-fighter dad as Adam West by way of William Shatner. Lines. Delivered. Word. By. Word. For camp effect.

Dad and his little Hit-Girl steal "Kick-Ass."

Crude, bloody and moody, "Kick-Ass" embraces, at arm's length, its fanboy origins. But maybe they should have decided if they loved these stereotypes, or wanted to ridicule them to death before rolling the camera.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.