A teenage boy named Dave decides to become a superhero, or rather a crime fighter because, as Dave's friends point out, superheroes have super powers. Dave doesn't have super powers, but he dresses in a green wet suit and carries a baton and tries to stop street thugs. He calls himself Kick Ass.
Kick Ass goes viral after a fight he has is caught with cell phone video and posted on YouTube. Dave inspires other young people to dress up and fight crime, but Dave soon learns that he's not the first costumed, crime-fighter in New York. Dave meets Hit Girl and Big Daddy, two individuals that mirror Bat Girl and Batman.
Those two aren't introduced in their full regalia until halfway through the movie. Up until that moment, this film is essentially a comedy. Dave narrates in voice-over how much his life sucks in high school, how much of a geek he is, and how much he envies comic book heroes. His friends, played by Evan Peters and Clark Duke, offer idiotic or cynical commentary one-liners with the whole first half of the movie taking on a Judd Apatow tone.
The second half of the movie, which is the moment that Dave meets the other crime-fighters, abandons that Apatow atmosphere and flies into Quentin Tarantino land. It's already foul-mouthed, but it's at the halfway point that things get uber violent. There's bloody, gory, uber violence, the kind which Tarantino delights, which wouldn't have been so bad, if it weren't for the fact that most of it is committed by a child.
Hit Girl performs most of the really horrible and brutal violence and she's only 11 years old. Basically, you have this little girl killing men twice her size and not just killing them but really, coldly mutilating their bodies, and it's not just one or two, but dozens of men. I would compare it to Zombieland, but in that film there was a reason for the brutality. This film halfway through wants to be like the video game violence you often see in movies, but it gets to be too much because I don't think a child committing these kinds of murders should be taken so lightly.
I know there have been martial arts films where children have fought and killed like this, but this seems to be way over-the-top and bloody for blood's sake only. Initially, it's meant to be shocking, but it becomes significantly unattractive to see this little girl essentially butchering people.
I suppose I would have been a little bit more impressed with this film, if I hadn't seen Mirageman. Mirageman is a film from Chile that was released on DVD last year. It's about a man who dresses up in a superhero costume and goes out on the streets to fight crime. Kick Ass is the teenage version of Mirageman.
A lot of the same situational comedy in Mirageman is there, except here the writers drop a whole lot more f-bombs. Yes, this is definitely a superhero film as seen through the eyes of Judd Apatow. It's better than Watchmen but not as edgy as Boondock Saints. For example, there's a moment when Dave pretends to be gay, and it might have been more interesting if they made him actually gay but instead they go for the hackneyed, homophobic joke.
Nicholas Cage does a good job with his character of the Batman-like Big Daddy. I know that Nicholas Cage changed his name from Nicholas Coppola to Cage because of his love of comic book heroes. Cage even named his son Kal-El after the Superman comics. Cage seems a natural in these roles. I almost wish the movie had been more about him.
There's an animation sequence that explains the back story of Cage's character, but a quick glimpse into Big Daddy's history isn't enough. There should have been more. A man trains his daughter to be practically a ninja assassin and we're not shown how he does it.
Two Stars Out of Five
Rated R for strong brutal violence, pervasive language, sexual content, nudity and some drug use
Running Time: 1 hr. and 57 mins.