| PLAYING DRESS-UP: Aaron Johnson and Chloë Grace Moretz. |
IMAGE: Courtesy of Marv Films / Lionsgate
Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s the movie’s title: Kick-Ass. Get used to this cynical riff on caped crusaders past. You won’t believe a man can fly, but you might decide not to have kids. For the rest of the film, a horny boy tries out his fantasy of becoming a comic-book superhero, and discovers that it actually works, except with enough cartoon bloodshed and naughty language for an R rating. It’s based on a Marvel comic by the writer of Wanted. In what I can only call a stroke of genius, he has crossed the high-school masturbation comedy with the people-getting-shot-in-the-face comedy. Those impressed by the word “ass” have already bought their tickets. They will buy more.
Our adolescent antihero natters on about how much he loves comics, and how boring he finds it that his mom died of an aneurysm. The actor Aaron Johnson last portrayed the young John Lennon, and here he declares, “With no power comes no responsibility.” Look at this fucking hipster! He teams up with an 11-year-old potty-mouth called Hit-Girl, also motherless, whose father has trained her to kill mobsters using knives and guns. The father is played by Nicolas Cage. This is the closest the movie comes to wit, and with all the bright colors and gleeful violence and daddy issues, it could have made for cheap fun.
The picture is certainly cheap, another murder party for men-in-tights, set in another Big Apple cobbled together out of spare Canada. The villain is a Mafia kingpin, not unlike the filmmaker, Matthew Vaughn. Vaughn once produced Pulp Fiction knockoffs for director Guy Ritchie, and now he’s marketing them directly to children. He apprentices teenagers in the wise-guy attitude of advertising. The explosions and camerawork are straight from a TV commercial, computer-smooth and devoid of danger. I expected someone to start selling me the all-new 2010 Civic Sedan, from Honda. The adman likes to flaunt, sneaking in a billboard of his wife, the supermodel Claudia Schiffer. In the final showdown, you might notice a symbol on the wall: the British pound. Wham! Pow! Ka-ching! R.