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Kick-Ass (2010)
Rated R

Starring: Aaron Johnson, Chloe Moretz, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse

Rating:
****
out of
*****

What if someone donned a costume and fought crime like the superheroes found in the pages of comic books? That is what average high school student (and comic book fan) Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) asks at the beginning of Kick-Ass. Although this topic has been tackled before -- most notably in Watchmen and Special -- Kick-Ass handles it in a more lighthearted and, in some ways, more shocking way.

Driven to answer his own question, Dave orders a scuba suit and various weapons and accessories from the Internet and creates his alter ego: Kick-Ass. His first attempt at stopping criminals nearly ends in his death but, after a stay in the hospital, Dave still finds himself determined to fight crime. When a video of Kick-Ass simultaneously fighting three men appears on YouTube, he becomes a phenomenon. Suddenly, Kick-Ass is thrust into the media spotlight and Dave discovers that he is not the first to don a mask and take on the underworld. When an accidental run-in with hardened drug dealers gets out of hand, Kick-Ass is rescued by Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz), a father/daughter team that has been fighting crime in costume for years. Seeing the brutal (and fatal) tactics used by these other heroes makes Dave realize he's out of his league and over his head.

Kick-Ass's marketing campaign sells it as a comedy but it's also a very violent action film with Tarentino-esque dialogue. What makes Kick-Ass more "shocking" than the aforementioned films is that the most brutal and foul-mouthed character in the movie is an 11-year-old girl. Some critics have been upset by this particular element of the movie. I, however, think it's hilarious and over-the-top.

Although the superhero elements work well, Kick-Ass falters with its reliance on a stereotypical mobster villain. For a film that's so deliciously outrageous, it's disappointing to see it scrape the bottom of the barrel to provide an adversary for the colorful young heroes.

That aside, Kick-Ass still manages to, um, kick ass.

Trivia: Both Daniel Craig and Mark Wahlberg were considered for the role of Big Daddy before Nicolas Cage was cast. (Source: The Internet Movie Database)

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