The problem with sitting down to write a movie review is, I really don’t like movie reviews, or people who write them.
Most movie reviews seem like they should be titled, Why I’m So Cool In Relation To This Movie. I’m smart and this is a smart movie, so I liked it and if you don’t you aren’t smart. Or I’m hip and this is a hip movie, so I liked it and if you don’t then you aren’t hip.
I don’t have kids, and this movie is aimed at eight year olds, so it’s stupid. Even, for some reason, if you’re eight.
Or, I have kids, and this movie was not appropriate for them. So they shouldn’t have made it.
It’s all about who the movie is talking to, and if you’re one of them, or if you want people to think you’re one of them. That’s why South Park doesn’t care if your priest and your mom are offended by the show. They aren’t talking to your priest or your mom, or if they are talking to them, they are saying, “Please get your panties in a bunch for the amusement of most of my viewers.”
That’s how it is with Kick Ass, a movie I saw on Saturday morning with Rob, and no special guest star, because Mike Rothe couldn’t make it, citing scheduling conflicts and a quote, “intense lack of interest in Tom’s stupid blog thing.” End quote.
The thing about Kick Ass – and really any movie – is you need to decide if you want to get on board or not. If you don’t want to get on board, then you are not going to like the boat ride. So sure, they’ll take your money, but what’s the point?
Let’s say you are a physics guy, and you can’t stand to watch a movie about space unless it’s scientifically accurate – leaving you with about five or six possibilities in the history of film, but whatever. My advice to you is going to be, don’t watch them, because nobody wants to sit and listen to you complain about the physics of everything. Inertial dampeners, warp drive, Heisenberg compensators – get on board, or don’t.
You’re going to miss a lot of great movies, but you weren’t going to like them anyway. So if you can’t learn to ignore the fact that screen writers are normally not scientists, then save yourself the time and the money.
You didn’t see me sitting around in Mamma Mia, because Mamma Mia wasn’t talking to me. I’m not going to go in there and stink it up for everyone’s mom.
When you’re deciding whether or not you should get on board Kick Ass, the first thing to ask yourself is if you are capable of putting down your parental perspective for two hours. Obviously, if you don’t have kids, then you don’t really have a parental perspective, so that should be something you very rarely pick up anyway. Not much of a problem.
Even if you don’t have a parental perspective, though, you might have a thing about graphic violence, or graphic violence committed by teenagers, or graphic violence committed by even younger kids than that. If that’s you, then it’s time for you to have kids – get to work. But if you’re going to go and see this movie, then put that weird prototype parenting perspective of yours down first.
Because from a parental perspective, the movie can basically not be defended, except in the way any movie can – it’s just a movie.
An eleven year old girl is trained by her dad from the age of five to be a little comic book killing machine. She graphically kills at least forty people, frequently with a blade, frequently with a gunshot at point blank range. She drops F-bombs and both kinds of C-bombs, and the only lesson she learns is that killing is often the answer to your problems, that revenge is a good thing, and that helping people is not always a good idea.
It looks like a satirical take on Batman and Robin –that’s pretty much what he did, except Batman won’t kill people. But he felt perfectly free putting little Robin up against lunatics who kill people all the time.
Me personally, it’s not hard to put down my parental perspective. Just turn off the phone. Beep. Gone.
Later, I’ll walk on out, turn that phone back on. Beep. There they are. You might say, that’s what’s so cool about me in relation to this movie.
But a mind-boggling number of people do not think I’m cool, and more specifically, a lot of people have a hard time putting their parental perspectives down. They watch a movie character shoot his eleven year-old daughter in the chest repeatedly, just so she can get used to how it feels to have that happen, wearing body armor, and they think, this movie is sick. And it is sick, sure.
It’s also not very realistic. You would kill your eleven year old daughter that way – body armor isn’t a force field. And this isn’t Goodfellas.
It’s just a comic book movie, so settle down. All you have to do, is not get on board. Just say, I’m not sick enough to watch this sick movie, and then feel good about yourself. I’m serious, you should feel good about that. Just do it outside.
But listen. Just like space movies don’t need to be scientifically accurate – in fact they shouldn’t be – comic book movies don’t need to be parentally approved afterschool specials about how good kids behave, or what realistically happens to them, when they disobey you. Not even at the end – that’s usually how they handle it, an hour and a half of violence and then a little lesson at the end about being nice and recycling and all that.
If you don’t need the movie to be your co-parent, it’s possible to watch this movie, and be amused not just by its audacity, but also by the fact that other than being offensive, it’s a great movie.
The camera work is nearly seamless, the effects are pretty subtle for a comic book movie, the characters are developed maybe not flawlessly, but as much as they need to be, and a couple of the action scenes are the most astonishingly choreographed I’ve seen since The Matrix.
It’s pretty good, if you decide to get on board. It’s pretty horrifying, but a lot of movies are horrifying and good at the same time – and often funny, too. It’s not just that it’s so unbelievably over the top violent that makes it good – there are a lot of really violent movies that I wasn’t crazy about. But it’s an effectively told story, too.
I’ll tell you, toward the end the little girl comes into this scene where there are about fifteen guys with guns in a single hallway, and you’re just absolutely terrified for them, because the little girl’s coming, and you know she’s going to kill every single one of them.
That couldn’t have been easy, putting the scenes together such that the little girl was scary, but that’s what she is. Scary and cool, with my daddy phone off.
And someone bothered to write the thing, too. I don’t want to deliver an English paper about it or anything, but it really seemed to me like the violence – and who was dispensing it – were both saying something about the violence our kids consume all the time, about the genre itself. I could really go on here – I think this movie is one of those postmodern things where it’s satirizing something while emulating it. If this were a college course, I could knock out an A paper on that in about a two hours.
But I think that cheats the movie, too. It’s called Kick Ass because that’s really all it wants to do.
I’m not going to do the standard movie review format – I just can’t get my brain around it. First I’m supposed to learn everyone’s names – both the characters and the actors – and then I’m supposed to summarize without spoiling, and then I’m supposed to render a decision and then support it. I like an alternative definition of movie review – I’m going to assume you’ve either already seen it, and we’re literally reviewing it, or that you’re wondering if you should get on board in the first place.
This movie is a couple of weeks old – there are plenty of reviews to read, and there are really two kinds. There are people who decide to get on board, and people who don’t but still want to complain about the boat ride.
My favorite is Roger Ebert. He starts off saying something like, “Maybe I’m just an incurable prude, but…”
Yes, I’m just going to stop you right there, sir. All you’re saying is, I get seasick easy, and I don’t like boats, but this boat ride sucks. Who cares?
Did you like Kill Bill? Because in the ultraviolence genre, this is better than Kill Bill. It’s the Bride, without Tarantino writing a bunch of coked-out dialogue for her. And even more striking than Uma Thurman slicing folks up is Uma Thurman when she’s eleven.
Didn’t like Kill Bill? Well, like I said, this is better. Unless the reason you didn’t like Kill Bill was because of all the violence. Check out the box, they’re not trying to trick you. There’s chicken stock in this thing, and you might be a vegetarian. No one wants to hear it if you go to Kick Ass and come out offended.
You know, that’s the other thing. Why is this movie called Kick Ass? It’s not really about the kid who names himself Kick Ass. That kid does very, very little to move the plot along. He was wondering why people don’t just turn into superheroes, and it turned out, some people do. So he gets his ass kicked most of the time – and then non-title characters kick all the ass.
See? Post modern. Four stars out of five. That’s about what Rob thinks, too. I forgot to ask him, and in fact I forgot to really mention him much at all in this whole thing. That’s what he gets for not writing it.
Next week looks like Nightmare on Elm Street, and special guest star Mike Rothe, if he yanks that stick out of his butt and shows up. But there’s a fifty percent chance I won’t actually watch it, I’ll just sit in a bar and wait for Rob to tell me all about it, because it looks super duper scary, and I don’t like to be scared.
Anybody else want to be a special guest star? Facebook me or Rob, the theatre holds around three hundred people.