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Lionsgate / 117 Minutes / 2010 / Rated R / Street Date: August 3, 2010
Surprisingly bold in its tone and feel, Kick-Ass is a high-octane curio of a comic book action movie. Neither a de facto translation of a graphic novel to film form nor a spoof of it, this "Hey, are you guys bored? Let's be super heroes!" adventure has more chutzpah in terms of shockingly violent, bloody role-playing than most every other comic flick that has been around the block in the last few years.
Like Watchmen or 300 - in rhetoric, if not tone - Kick-Ass embraces its R rating with aplomb, and the results liberate what would have very likely been a dumb-ass kiddie flick into the realms of legitimately entertaining adult-nerd fare. Without the need to cater to a lunchbox crowd, the makers of Kick-Ass have a very unique opportunity to engage the nerds who hear of the film's concept and immediately grab a joint and head to the theatre: They can make an adult movie for and only for supernerds.
Here's the setup: When he's not jackin' it to online porn and living a wasted young life, Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) decides to put his money where his mouth is and attempts to 'give back' to his community by donning a ridiculous green wetsuit and fighting crime as a real-life superhero. One thing leads to another and somebody captures said altruistic tomfoolery on camera, and the viral spread is severe: Before we know it, other latent wannabe superheroes (including Nicolas Cage and Chloe Grace Moretz) have joined Dave on his quest, and they form a unit called Kick-Ass. Throw in a big-time gangster (Mark Strong) who doesn't like these guys messing with his business, his equally nerd-tastic son (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) who also has a penchant for dressing in tights and fighting, and you have a swirling TMNT-esque good vs. evil fight that is less Clash of the Titans than it is Revenge of the Nerds.
The long and the short of it is that even those with a modest interest in nerd subculture will find Kick-Ass to be, well, kick-ass. The loopy, profane irreverence showcased in the picture is refreshingly off-color and endearing, and the film's wink-wink structure really pays off. I have a seriously sinking feeling that any enjoyment derived from Kick-Ass will likely wear off during a second viewing - it looks to be a one-and-done kind of flick - but that doesn't mean that any dude who's still holding on to some classic Spider-man memorabilia 'just in case' won't get a solid handful of chuckles out of this one.