Kick-Ass

If Quentin Tarantino and Judd Apatow were sitting around drunk one night and decided to make a superhero movie, the result would be Kick-Ass.

Equal parts ultra-violent, ultra-profane, and ultra-hilarious, it tells the story of a high school loser named Dave (the relatively unknown Aaron Johnson), who decides, after one-too-many after-school muggings, to become a vigilante crime-fighter. Form of… Kick-Ass!

So he orders a wetsuit online and sets off on his quest, armed only with bravado and a sense of purpose. He promptly gets himself gutted and run over by a car, but it’s nothing a few-dozen surgeries and a couple months of physical rehab can’t fix.

The next time out, he does a little ass-kicking of his own and becomes an internet sensation, complete with a MySpace page and YouTube videos.

At the same time, Damon Macready (Nicolas Cage) is out in a vacant lot getting ready to pop a couple slugs into his cutie-pie daughter Mindy (Chloe Moretz). Well, not into her, really. She’s wearing a bulletproof vest for heaven’s sake. It’s just part of his master plan to turn his daughter into a killing machine… all the better to help them take vengeance on the evil crime boss Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong, Sherlock Holmes) who killed Damon’s career… and his wife. Inspired by the celebrity of Kick-Ass, Damon becomes Big Daddy, and Mindy becomes Hit-Girl.

Yes, there’s a lot of set-up (some of it entirely unnecessary, including a particularly grisly homage to Gremlins involving one of the bad guys and a giant microwave) but once the movie gets going, it’s off like a (gutter-mouthed) rocket.

Johnson (adeptly dropping his English accent) plays Kick-Ass with the perfect mix of wimpiness and ego. Pining for the love of Katie (Lyndsy Fonseca, Hot Tub Time Machine), while also doing his best to keep the streets safe, he deftly jumps back and forth between superhero and high school nobody.

Also on the scene is the always-great Christopher Mintz-Plasse (McLovin’) as D’Amico’s son, who would desperately like to take over the family business one day, if not for all these pesky superheroes.

It’s Big Daddy and Hit-Girl who steal the show, though. Cage has returned to fine form and Moretz is quickly making her mark as a young face to watch. The movie poster may say Kick-Ass, but this is Hit-Girl’s show all the way.

Yes, what you’ve heard is true. It’s very violent: I think there are, maybe, two people in the entire movie who aren’t shot, stabbed, punched, beaten, burned, blown up, or otherwise dispatched in spectacular fashion. And, yes, it’s very profane– with the most offensive ‘colorful phrases’ coming from Hit-Girl’s cutie-pie 12-year-old mouth.

But it’s also extremely funny, and director Matthew (Layer Cake) Vaughn has put together a spot-on satire of superhero movies that will keep you laughing and on the edge of your seat at the same time.

…that is, assuming you can get used to hearing a 12-year-old use language that would make Tarantino himself wince a little.