Friday, April 23, 2010

Go see "Kick-Ass" already and just have a hell of a lot of fun

Actually, before we get into any of that today, why not start with some truly "Kick-Ass" casting news?

If you were to list my favorite actors, Hal Holbrook would easily find a spot in the top five. He made "Into the Wild," a movie that still just continues to get better and better with age, and he was even better than that as the star of "That Evening Sun," a genuine Southern gothic that should really be coming to DVD very soon, so keep an eye out for it.

Now he's gonna get the chance to be a truly bad MF as a short-term cast member of "Sons of Anarchy," which in its second season last year really became a great TV drama. When season three returns in September, Holbrook will star in the first four episodes as Gemma's (Katey Segal) father. I was gonna watch anyway already, but they've certainly amped up my interest with that news.

And in even crazier news, I really didn't think there was any way you could get me to watch a remake of "Arthur," even though I do find Russell Brand to be very funny, but I think they've now actually pulled that off.

How? By casting Dame Helen Mirren in the role made legendary by Sir John Gielgud, therefore changing it from a butler to a nanny, something which Brand could almost certainly use in his real life too. There is, of course, still a very large chance that this could just suck all kinds of balls, but with Helen Mirren in it I can at least guarantee you I'll be there to watch it crash and burn.

OK, before I got sidetracked by that little bit of business, this was supposed to be a defense of "Kick-Ass," though having seen it twice now, I'm still rather amazed that Matthew Vaughn's thoroughly entertaining movie needs one.

And this really isn't in response to Roger Ebert or anyone else who has questioned the morality of so much violence being perpetrated by a 12-year-old (my best guess, I really have no idea how old kids actually are.) I'm willing to dismiss that as the ramblings of a sometimes cranky old man, especially since I'm pretty rapidly becoming one of those too. All I can really say is IT'S A FRIGGIN' R-RATED MOVIE!!!

Instead, it's more about what "Kick-Ass" really is rather than what it isn't, because judging by the week one box office numbers, I have to assume that the majority of people who happen to stumble by here today haven't seen it yet.

Because what Vaughn has really accomplished is to make one of the very few non-animated movies that manage to bring a genuine comic book vibe to the big screen. Terry Zwigoff managed to do it by capturing perfectly the spirit of Daniel Clowes' "Ghost World," and the just criminally underrated "Shoot 'Em Up" - though more like Looney Tunes than comic books - managed to contain all of the fun of comic books too (and if you haven't seen this little comic gem, rent it immediately!)

And in many ways, Vaughn has accomplished the same rare feat with his movie about the comic book "Kick-Ass." Ebert and others were at least part right - it does indeed start with the violence. Perhaps my moral compass is just completely askew, but when I knowingly go into an R-RATED movie with the name "Kick-Ass," I think I've pretty much ceded any right to be offended. And besides, I wasn't. I was entertained.

I don't want to give too much away, but the two action set-pieces involving Hit-Girl (young Chloe Moretz, who is just a delight) are easily the two best I've seen this year, and are among the best of the last 10 years or so too. The first starts in darkness, then turns into a trick of lighting and is just expertly shot. And the grand finale, well, all I'll tell you is that it does involve a bazooka and another much cooler weapon that I won't reveal to you here. Let's just say I defy you not to laugh out loud once you hear the strains of "Battle Hymn of the Republic" ring out.

But it's not all about the violence. Just about everything in "Kick-Ass" is fun, funky and very often outrageous, as comic book movies should be. Nicolas Cage is funnier than he's been since, well, "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" as Hit-Girl's guardian, Big Daddy, and the near-constant riff on superhero worship manages to sustain itself through the whole thing.

My only qualm with the first movie and fear for the inevitable sequel (but only if the box office numbers somehow pick up, probably) is that that McLovin kid is definitely a one-trick pony. Saying any more than that would only spoil things.

And in week two, there's at least a fighting chance that "Kick-Ass" could somehow win the week, considering the fecal matter - "The Back-Up Plan" and "The Losers" - that's polluting multiplexes this week. If you're having doubts about this and trust me at all (a dangerous proposition, I certainly concede), give "Kick-Ass" a chance in week two. 'Nuff said. Peace out.

12 comments:

Casey said...

I actually thought that the crass nature of this movie was one of the elements that made it so entertaining and great. I absolutely loved seeing hit girl slice and dice a handful of bad guys with a smile on her face, and dropping F-bombs like a cute little girl. Haha. Anyway, I was very surprised by this movie. One of my personal favorite superhero movies. I mad a top 10 superhero movie list and this one was right up there.

Reel Fanatic said...

I think you got it exactly right, Casey, but that's probably why the movie made so little money in week one .. I guess you just have to look at the world in a certain kind of way to get enjoyment out of Hit-Girl's skills, but I certainly did too

Justin said...

My wife went to see it with me and completely loved it. You're right about those action sequences with Hit Girl too - just brilliant.

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jeremy said...

The roommate saw it and steered me and the bf away because we are such big fans of the comix. The changes in plot sound like enough to turn me off. Then I heard Cage's Big Daddy voice. So I'm waiting for video. Glad to hear that it is well-liked with some fun action.
I saw Maura Tierney and Frances McDormand on Wednesday. Told them you said hi!

Reel Fanatic said...

I've heard from several people that the comix are much darker, but I haven't read them yet Jeremy, so I didn't have to worry about that ... As fun as this one is, you're really not missing too much if you indeed wait until video

Nell Minow said...

Keith, I enjoyed "Kick-Ass" a lot (totally agree with you about "Shoot 'em Up", which was a hoot). But I object to having a 12-year-old child saying and doing the things Moritz did in this film. It's interesting to me that you are (justifiably) offended at animal abuse in movies but do not have a problem with a child committing pretend violence and saying real words a stranger could be arrested for saying to her. I blame her parents, but it seems to me that the laws in place for protecting children in the workplace should cover this as well.

Reel Fanatic said...

You're probably right that it's a moral lapse on my part, Nell, and that may well stem from the fact that I don't have any kids to take care of myself ... If I did, I'm fairly certain that seeing kids doing such reprehensible things would finally offend me, but I'm afraid that for now I just find it almost always very funny, so I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree (as always, civilly, of course!) ... and that Supreme Court decision was just ludicrous!

Viagra Online prescription said...

It is indeed a great film, one of my favorites.

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