“Kick-Ass” is one sick flick, but it does sick brilliantly. It taunts artfully that sick also means cool. Droves of movie goers, and most notably young people, will sign on for this ride. They already have. Waves of new and repeat viewings will drown past the film's “R” rating.
I'm not overly worried that characters, including the pre-teen star in “Kick-Ass,” spew what are regarded as the worst words in the English language. (I worry more when foul language somehow grabs equal or greater attention than violence.)
I'm not particularly worried that people would criticize the film's steady stream of graphic violence. That cat is so out of the bag in contemporary entertainment culture. (I worry more that we countenance violence so routinely in real life; movies are the least of it).
Nonetheless, this unnecessary film stomps on the cat. Not only does it lavish in brutal, bloody attacks on kids. It proudly brandishes ruthlessly skilled retaliations by kids.
Can this film possibly justify appreciation beyond base and rebellious desires to lash out vicariously? (Anyone who attends glass movie houses shouldn't throw stones.)
First, “Kick-Ass” is only a movie. Notwithstanding its realistic depictions, this is as over-the-top not-real as any movie that escapes controversy.
Second, “Kick-Ass” is satire. It stings our need for superhero myths as the only way we can strike down bad in the world. It contorts three loving dads: a good guy dad, who raises his girl from birth to be an avenging instrument of good against evil; a bad guy dad, who shallowly shields his son from his vicious, drug-lording empire; and a standard issue dad, whose primary parenting tool is passive cluelessness.
It morphs the kids to reckon with the world: An 11-year-old girl, who puts an unprecedented stamp on empowerment; a cloistered kid compelled by the evil realm where his father lives; and a normal, dorky teen, whose idealism mixes with immature judgment to inspire, let's just say, an unusual set of movie interactions.
Third, “Kick-Ass” puts fresh, superhero shtick and clever, unpredictable twists into a surprisingly well-written script, including a range of colorful characters and character chemistry. It does so better than most of the action pictures that co-opt the blockbuster landscape.
Sick? Yes. That said, “Kick-Ass” commits movie magic, including an undeniable special effect of making every guardian's job a tad more complicated.