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Kick-Ass Review (sort of)

I can't exactly call this a straight review of Kick-Ass for the following reasons:

1.I saw it four months ago, and my memory is hazy at best.

2.When I watched it I hadn't slept for about 24 hours, and was coming off 3 hours of sleep and a hangover before that.

3.The effects work and music were not complete. The music specifically has apparently been changed 100% since I've seen it.

4.The screening where I saw Kick-Ass was the single most enthusiastic screening I've ever attended, and I don't think that energy is going to translate to your average 'Joe Six-Pack' at the local megaplex.

I think it's unlikely that I was in my most objective headspace when I saw Kick-Ass. When we attended Harry Knowles' Butt-Numb-A-Thon last December, Kick-Ass played in the 'hour 20 of 24' slot, right after the pain and torture of Knowles' infamous late night bizarro programming, which consisted this year of the Shaw Brothers' Centipede Horror and the grindhouse-ish Candy Snatchers, which both seemed to energize exactly half the audience while putting the other half right to sleep. Needless to say, after that one-two punch of 'meh' and 'gross,' we needed something to hang our hats on, and Kick-Ass delivered in a big way. It was like the Superbowl of movies. People were literally leaping out of their seats in excitement. I think the French dude in the seat next to me was crying happy tears. No shit.

And I just have to keep reminding myself: This is the same audience that went ape-shit for '300.'

I begin with all these caveats because I need to add a little perspective when I tell you that Kick-Ass is fun as hell, and a shockingly good time at the movies. There's not anything here that's going to keep you up late pondering the meaning of life, but on the other hand there is Nicholas Cage as Adam West-style Batman with a trucker mustache. That has to count for something, right?

Cage (Big Daddy) and his on-screen daughter Chloe Moretz (as Hit Girl) are easily the best part of this movie. Every second either of them is on screen is pure magic. It's a good thing they were kept waiting in the wings until the second act because they would have easily stolen center stage from lead Aaron Johnson (as the titular Kick-Ass) if they had shown up any earlier. They pretty much do anyway. It's been long enough since I saw the movie that I don't remember many specific jokes and beats, and I'm really looking forward to watching the pair's uncontrollable bravado and manic energy again fresh. What moments I do remember – their introduction, Big Daddy asking Hit Girl what she wants for her birthday, Big Daddy accentuating his real mustache with fake extensions and spirit gum – is solid gold.

Here's the thing: everyone at Butt-Numb-A-Thon totally bought this movie's conceit of a 'real world' high schooler who get's tired of getting beat up and starts dressing up and playing superhero, with disastrous, hilarious, and occasionally badass results. But I just can't imagine that this will connect with a larger audience. It's meta-superhero fan-boy hipster kitsch. People who love it will love it. People who aren't on board will be totally annoyed. Annoyed at the movie and annoyed by people who think it's funny and cool. I've seen the same division emerge over last fall's Zombieland. While I found it very funny, very fresh, and a nice 'across-the-pond' companion piece to Edgar Wright's Shaun of the Dead, some of my friends (cough Justin cough) just couldn't get on board with the premise, or else found the main characters annoying or cliché. I fear the same for Kick-Ass.

Like all the other fanboys, my ass will be in a seat opening night to watch the trials and tribulations of Kick-Ass, Hit Girl, Big Daddy, and Red Mist. I loved this movie when I first saw it, and I sincerely hope that against all odds, it ends up being as entertaining as it was at Butt-Numb-A-Thon. I worry about the new music, because nothing could be as awesome and wacky as John Williams' Superman theme blaring as Kick-Ass suits up for the first time, or Red Mist taking his new car out for a spin set to Danny Elfman's Batman theme (due to copyright issues, neither of these cues made the final cut). I worry about how the movie's plot-integral references to things like Myspace are already dated, and how that might make the movie seem a little out of touch right out of the box. But then again, Kick-Ass might be as entertaining as I remember. My fingers are crossed.

If not, there's always Scott Pilgrim vs. the World...

Magic Moment: What Big Daddy and Hit Girl order off of Ebay.

Fun Fact: Christopher Mintz-Plasse aka McLovin aka Red Mist was – surprisingly – a charming and charismatic lil' guy when he attended the BNAT screening. I expected him to be a little, I don't know, mumbley? But he's actually a pretty quick-witted and entertaining fella.

-Ben

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Kick-Ass Review (sort of) + review