Aug. 16--Subversive, naughty and often outright clever, "Kick-Ass 2" is a satirical, and often on-target, look at comic book mentality.
In a world in which superheroes are regarded as super and the "real" world as bland and pointless, this sequel, following in the muddied footprints of its legendary first film, sticks it to teenage culture in a way few films dare to even try.
Never mind that teenagers, at least the ones who go to the film, may not even notice. Those who see it will be divided between the ones who get the joke and those who don't. People in the latter category may actually think it is an action flick. That's fine. We wouldn't want to disillusion them, but it's the kind of movie in which an action sequence is accompanied by a punk version of "When the Saints Go Marching In." As a symbol of its current status, one "hero" comments, after a fight, "I've got to tweet about that."
Clearly, Jeff Wadlow, who wrote and directed the comic-book-based movie, is after more than Batman or Iron Man or any of the legitimate icons of the genre. He's smarter than that.
Kick-Ass, the original "hero," is still around -- a regular teen with glasses who puts on a costume to escape the real world. Hit-Girl, still pouty and adorable, gives up her swift moves after she is grounded for sneaking out at night.
Even though it's rated R, this is the kind of movie in which Hit-Girl has to put a dollar in the "swear jar" each time she uses a bad word. (She asks for an extra jar.)
But Red Mist, who takes a new, unprintable name, envisions himself as a super-villain out to avenge the death of his ultra-rich dad and assembles his own team.
Hit-Girl is persuaded to go back into action after the snooty high school queen of the dance squad embarrasses her to no end. She needs her moves to take on the high school mean girls. The Virginia Beach audience with which I saw this broke into cheers when the mean girls got their comeuppance, literally, via a mixture of vomiting and bowel movements.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson is Kick-Ass, good-hearted and out to save the world, but he draws cheers from the audience when he takes his shirt off. Chlo Grace Moretz, 16, plays Hit-Girl and manages to actually look 15. Christopher Mintz-Plasse is wonderfully nerdish and clueless as the former Red Mist, who is so rich he can buy all kinds of evil.
Somewhere, trying to hide, is Jim Carrey, cast as born-again-Christian-turned-superhero Colonel Stars and Stripes. Luckily, he is unrecognizable. It's been downhill for Jim since "Dumb and Dumber," but has it come to this?
Just when things get too inane to be tolerated, Wadlow's script slips in a hint that, after all, he knows better and is just playing with us. One of the crusaders wants revenge because his parents were killed on the way home from the opera. (Similar to the fate of Batman's parents.) Another, in all righteousness, declares that "every inebriated college girl deserves to get home safely." Justice must be served.
If you choose to see this, approach it as a comedy, certainly not as an action film. As a form of rebellion, it is more than tolerable -- and occasionally certifiably satiric.
Mal Vincent, 757-446-2347, email@example.com
Cast Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chlo Grace Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jim Carrey
Director and writer Jeff Wadlow
MPAA rating R for strong violence, pervasive language, crude and sexual content and brief nudity
(c)2013 The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Va.)
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