I mentioned in my earlier mini-review of Kick-Ass the comic book from Marvel Comics and created by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr., that I was jealous of everyone that had seen the film version of Kick-Ass over the past two months. I suppose that Santa Barbara does not exactly ring high on the hipness scale to draw advance screenings, except for the occasional film made by someone who lives here. I am also assuming that if there was a special event that I would have actually been invited.
So, I created my own mini event. My wife and three of our friends met up at the nearby Hollister Brewing company for fried pickle chips, duck-fat fries, sandwiches and a pints of beer and then we were off to see the movie that tons of people had already seen and from what I had read, really enjoyed.
The movie stars Aaron Johnson as Dave Lizewski, who is the teen destined to become Kick-Ass. Johnson is great in his role as an awkward teenage comic book fanboy, who is tired of his mediocre life of obscurity and of getting shaken down on a regular basis for his money, his cellphone and at times his treasured comic books. Having reached his breaking point, he buys a gaudy scuba suit from ebay and Kick-Ass is born. Johnson captures the uncomfortable uncertainty of being young and slightly out of touch with reality perfectly, but it is his co-star Chloe Grace Moretz, who at times steals the show as Mindy Macready and her alter ego Hit-Girl.
Moretz had the audience divided among those who roared with laughter and those who laughed, but felt guilty doing so. Hit-Girl is a quick, witty, foul-mouthed, lethal, 12-years-old assassin, who's action sequences were so quick and fluid that I was often left wondering if I had actually just seen what I had thought that I had just seen. Her scenes with Nicolas Cage, who portrays Hit-Girl's father, Big Daddy, were touching and at the same time unnerving as the little girls jumps for joy over the twin set of butterfly knives that she has just received for her birthday and will soon be plunged into the heart of a bad guy. Nicolas Cage is also a crackup with his best Adam West impersonation whenever he donned the mantle of Big Daddy.
The movie is different in many key parts from the actual comic book, but the changes worked, and in most instances for the better. The scenes involving Kick-Ass' love interest were changed, Big Daddy's origin was very different, and the finale was something not even hinted at in the book. But, as I mentioned, the changes worked and I have to say that I actually enjoyed the film better than...gasp...the comic book.
The pacing of the movie was quick with action scenes not carrying on for half the movie and dialogue not seeming forced or overly drawn out. The violence...which is going to be the main point of criticism, especially from those who should not bother seeing the film...is jarring and at the beginning it is disturbing due to the realism involved, but once the costumes are on the theater was at ease and cheering and laughing through some of the most gruesome acts, especially the ones committed by the 12-year-old Hit Girl.
The movie soundtrack also fit perfectly and left me wanting to pick up some CD's from the Dickies, Joan Jett and the New York Dolls. Some of the scoring included a few Ennio Morricone tracks and I also at one point picked up the haunting music from 28 Days Later that was at first distracting, but ultimately fit the mood fine.
The movie was a lot of fun and everyone in my little party enjoyed it immensely, even my wife, who said that she loved it...despite at two points putting her sweater over her face to avoid seeing a couple of the more realistic violent scenes. Kick-Ass is definitely worth the price of the overly expensive ticket and is a movie that I will be buying on blu-ray as soon as it is released. See it.
*sidenote* I just remembered to mention that Christopher Mintz-Plasse as the Red Mist, who I thought would forever be known as "McLovin" from Superbad, was great as well and will hopefully be seen in the followup Kick-Ass 2! Goodbye McLovin, hello Red Mist.