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Superhero-movie satire funny, violent, disturbing

Fri., April 16, 2010

Nicolas Cage is shown in a scene from “Kick-Ass.” Lionsgate (Lionsgate)
Nicolas Cage is shown in a scene from “Kick-Ass.” Lionsgate (Lionsgate)

The filmmakers behind Hollywood’s latest superhero flick have declared war on family values.

“Kick-Ass” is bad news for lovers of all that is gentle and wholesome. But it’s great news for fans itching to laugh dementedly as a little girl in a neon purple wig cusses like Tony Soprano and fires kill shots to the heads of many bad guys.

Director Matthew Vaughn has made an action comedy so bloody funny – double emphasis on bloody – fans might need to see it again just to catch the gags they missed from laughing so hard the first time.

Based on the comic book of the same name, the film is seriously, nastily violent, both satirizing the excesses of superhero flicks and showing genuine, hurtful consequences of the cartoon action Hollywood serves up.

As an 11-year-old masked vigilante, supporting player Chloe Grace Moretz simply owns this movie, deliriously complemented by Nicolas Cage as her doting but dotty dad.

That’s not to take anything away from Aaron Johnson, solid but rather bland by comparison in the title role as a teen who takes on a superhero alter-ego and bumbles out to fight crime – without a trace of the special powers that usually go with the job.

Johnson plays Dave Lizewski, an average New York City comic-book geek who wonders why real people don’t sally forth to become superheroes.

Buying a sleek wetsuit online for his costume, Dave rebrands himself as Kick-Ass, who quickly suffers for his hapless presumption in taking on brutal street thugs.

Yet Dave’s pluck and resilience – plus a YouTube video of his exploits recorded by a bystander – turn him into a folk hero, making him a target for crime boss Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong).

Dave also comes to the attention of Damon Macready (Cage) and daughter Mindy (Moretz), true, hardcore caped crusaders who go by the names Big Daddy and Hit Girl and possess the skills and weaponry to really take a bite out of crime.

The three heroes wind up in an epic battle against D’Amico and his heavies – including his son, a supervillain wannabe hilariously played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse.

The movie bogs down here and there in side stories involving Dave’s geek pals (Clark Duke and Evan Peters) and the high school hottie (Lyndsy Fonseca) Dave dreams about.

Mostly, though, “Kick-Ass” hurtles along breathlessly, from a brilliant opening gag to a climax whose action is hysterical but also disturbing, when Vaughn lifts the veil on the Hollywood silliness to show real, vulnerable people being hurt.


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