The fact that we live in an age where a movie like this can exist is rather amazing. As a kid reading comic books, I remember being lucky to get a spandex-clad superhero movie every couple of years. Now, they flood cineplexes. Not only can I see superhero movies often, I also get satirical, darkly comic, deconstructionist superhero movies.
“Kick-Ass 2” is even more cartoonish and ridiculous than the original. Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), an ordinary high school student, spends his nights dressing up in green spandex and trying to be the world‘s first superhero: Kick-Ass. There hasn’t been much growth for Dave. He’s getting better at being a costumed crime fighter but excelling at little else. His only connection to his secret life is Mindy (Chloë Moretz), also known as the evil-killing super weapon, Hit Girl. Mindy is trying to move on with her life after losing her father but finds the non-costumed life stifling. Her surrogate father knows her secret and is trying to create a more normal existence for her. Dave and Mindy are both in search of a life: one in costume and one without.
It turns out Dave’s superhero dream is shared by others. He’s inspired an army of superheroes who take to the streets in costumes. Searching for kindred spirits, Dave finds himself joining with a group of other wannabe superheroes. They work under the name “Justice Forever” and are led by the menacing Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey). What happens next harkens back to the final scene of “Batman Begins,” when Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) talks about escalation. If heroes start wearing masks, certainly the villains of the world will follow suit.
That promise is fulfilled by The Motherfucker (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), who still holds a grudge against Kick-Ass for blowing up his father with a bazooka. Yes, this is the kind of movie where blowing someone up with a bazooka is just a thing that happens. Villains assemble with costumes, and before you know it, the city is plagued by a bunch of super-violent assholes looking to pick a fight. It’s up to Kick-Ass, Hit Girl and the growing community of aspiring heroes to save the day.
“Kick-Ass 2” is weird and wonderful—a big, dumb, violent cartoon, packed to the brim with inane happenings. Director Jeff Wadlow does a great job staging this collection of lunatics in a world far removed from reality. I found myself laughing at Jim Carrey’s decision to distance himself from the violence in this movie, after having some kind of anti-gun epiphany. The violence in this movie is so wildly unrealistic it’s almost hilarious, like watching Elmer Fudd shoot Daffy Duck in the face. The fact that someone would give any of the comically overstated brutality in “Kick-Ass 2” weight baffles me. This movie wears “stupid” right on the sleeve.
Fortunately, a handful of good actors seem to have a blast and get ample scenery to chew. I admire movies like “Kick-Ass 2” because they are fearless in a way most mainstream movies aren’t—presenting a world where being a superhero is as easy as putting on some spandex and giving yourself a stupid name. Everything in this film gets covered in a thick layer of corn syrup and washed clean with buckets of fake blood.
Fans of schlock will appreciate “Kick Ass 2.” This is the kind of movie I infinitely enjoy but wonder just who, outside of me, is the target audience. Comic book fans? B-movie enthusiasts? People who like watching the mash-up of a teen coming-of-age movie that incorporates scenes of projectile vomit?
I completely understand and suspect someone will call “Kick-Ass 2” a complete waste of time. The movie is insular in its limited appeal, and feels destined for a level of cult success. “Kick-Ass 2” will no doubt be spurned by audiences who find it too broad and violent.
Starring Jim Carrey,
Directed by Jeff Wadlow