I was really happy when the family behind me got up and left about 15 minutes into ‘Kick-Ass.’ I noticed them just as I took my seat and I was distracted by their presence the whole time they were there. Didn’t they know what was going to happen in this movie? Hadn’t they at least read a review before they decided to bring their 10-year-old to an R-rated movie?
I did know, and for this reason I decided to go see ‘Kick-Ass’ alone on Saturday afternoon. Have you ever wanted to see a movie really bad but didn’t want to be held responsible for what your friends or family thought of it afterward? That was the situation I found myself in with ‘Kick-Ass.’
Most critics found themselves conflicted over ‘Kick-Ass’ too. That’s because ‘Kick-Ass’ is ultimately a movie of paradoxes. It’s about kids, but it’s not for kids. It’s funny, but it’s not really a comedy. It’s cartoonish, and yet its very premise asks what would happen if someone decided to be a superhero in real life.
That premise is certainly the most intriguing part of the movie and it really comes into focus when Kick-Ass’s first fight lasts about 30 seconds and lands him in the hospital for several days. The brutality of this first encounter hits like a ton of bricks (or a car) and this is the moment that the audience realizes that they’ve been mislead. See, the previews make this movie look like a hilarious spoof – a laugh-out-loud, fun-for-the-whole family send up of the superhero genre. But in this scene Kick-Ass and the audience suddenly come to the same realization: This is not a game. And they come to it at exactly the same moment as Kick-Ass’s eyes go wide with pain in a slow-motion, ultra-close shot as the knife he never even saw coming is retracted from his gut, followed closely by a waterfall of blood.
There in the theater we felt an awkward tension at that moment. Some of us gasped. Some of us groaned. Some of us laughed out loud and some of us literally shouted in response, “That’s not funny!”
It seems like the actors and directors too, were conflicted when they made this movie. Regardless of utterly outrageous plot, you start to care deeply about the characters, especially ‘Hit Girl’ and ‘Big Daddy’ (the two real heroes who come to Kick-Ass’s aid when he realizes he’s in over his head). But then just as you start to become really emotionally involved in the story, Nicholas Cage will bust out his hammy Adam West impression or there will be some slapstick moment worthy of a Farrely brothers buddy pic.
Perhaps it was the conflicted nature of this movie, though, that made it one of the most memorable theatrical experiences of my lifetime. I cannot stop telling my friends about it. I can’t tell them it was a “good movie”, only that it was “Awesome.” Watching Kick-Ass for me was a visceral experience. My body literally reacted to it with goosebumps, chills (Big Daddy’s fight scene in the warehouse), and even tears. As a comic book lover, a nerd, and someone who is perpetually disappointed by my own complacency and the complacency of others, I needed this movie.
Comic books are not made for kids. They are made by adults who need an outlet for the trauma they’ve suffered as kids; people who still can’t forget the disappointment of discovering that there are no superheroes and their are no super-villains. For someone like me, ‘Kick-Ass’ was a 2-hour release for that sorrow. If that sounds like something you need, go see this movie. If you have no idea what the heck I’m talking about, well, I’ve heard that ‘Date Night’ is pretty good…
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