Greetings from Sunny Los Angeles!
I’ve been far too busy committing deadly sins to write anything these last few weeks. But I got another e-mail from Tiger Beatdown, and I’m like THESE GUYS AGAIN and apparently we do this thing year round now. Who knew?
So I took time off from my vacation and jetted on down to a tiny theater on Vermont Avenue to see something I could write about. The name of the movie I saw is Kick-Ass. It is about real people determined to become superheroes. The main character, Dave Lizewski/Kick-Ass, is a scrawny loser who converts a wet suit into an ersatz superhero costume. Kick-Ass is played by Aaron Johnson, who is cute as a button. He comes off as genuinely friendly and sweet and someone you’d like to go halfsies with on a novelty oversized banana split – the kind where if you finish it by yourself, you get a t-shirt. You feel like he’d let you have a cherry or two instead of eating them all as fast as he could THIS IS NOT A GAME GIVE ME A GODDAMN CHERRY.
So there’s that. Kick-Ass is on a quest – he wants to be a crimefighter. Through his bungling, he attracts the attention and aid of Big Daddy – an ex-cop with a grudge – and Hit Girl – an 11-year-old who curses and savagely murders people. Instead of this being a nauseating cautionary tale about the effect that fetishizing violence has on the human soul (like Man Bites Dog or Funny Games) it is a comedy about how funny it is to watch a little girl stab people. Everyone loves Hit Girl! Even the villain! He says he wishes he had a son like her! (Not a daughter – that’s gross – but a son!) You see, women? All you need to do to earn begrudging respect from men is mow down a line of henchmen like Sarah Palin moving though a list of endangered animals she’d like to turn into jerky – and even then they’ll wish you were a dude. Fun!
Not to mention that in other parts of the world, children ARE used as soldiers – made to commit atrocities, kept drugged and armed and on edge at all times. But HAHAHA this is our American version, where you can train a little girl to impale drug dealers and she never needs therapy. The most disturbing part of the buzz surrounding this film was how few people objected to this. Is this who we want to be? As a people? We think a little girl with a gun is a sign the empire will stand forever?
In addition to bringing up that creepy “killer children” thing people have been beating to death since The Ring, Hit Girl is the latest in a long line of “Women (who are not supposed to kick ass) kicking ass.” Such women are not just stand-ins for the viewer’s own sense of everyday helplessness (like Jet Li or Jean-Claude Van Damme), but are also total babes. Men watch male superheros to escape from a reality in which justice is often murky and unsatisfying – to live for a few minutes in a world where the ratio of evil deeds to roundhouse kicks to the face is one to one. But female superheros are a novelty – like watching a dog walk around in high heels – and any praise a man gives them must come with the caveat that most women are generally lame and soft and boring to listen to (ALL THEY EVER TALK ABOUT IS CLOTHES AND US WEEKLY) and should not be misconstrued as praise for her athleticism, her years of training, or her willingness to put herself in danger for the helpless.
The villain of the film is a mafioso who sells drugs, which you never see; all you ever see him doing is ordering people put to death in gruesome ways. And while all of this is happening Kick-Ass is living the life of a normal teenage boy. He hangs out with his friends. He masturbates. He has a crush on his teacher. And a hot girl his own age.
Things happen! Montages! Flashbacks! Tongue-in-cheek comical interludes! Fighting! Somewhere in there one of Dave’s friends mentions there is a rumor going around school that Dave is a “lame duck.” I was confused – as far as I knew, he didn’t hold any elected office. Then I realized his friend meant people thought Dave was gay! Haha! Lame duck! Like how we’re all such credenza dusting pansies! Such wit!
His long time crush invites him for out for coffee and he accepts. He lets her believe he is gay, and they do fun things like topless self-tanning and sleepovers. But finally, after a lot of good natured ribbing from his friends, he decides the lies need to stop, and breaks into her house to confess his love for her. She, to her credit, KICKS THE SHIT out of him (this is, incidentally, how all of my Twilight fanfic ends). But she can’t stay mad at him forever and soon it is sleepover time. Sexy sleepover time.
So, to recap, his “gay period” goes like this:
- He comes out to supportive friend.
- Sexy massages and lots of watching Sex and the City.
- Stalking/A little light B&E.
No hate crimes, no taunting from high school bullies, and no negative consequences whatsoever. He isn’t even forced to come out to his Father. I mean COME ON, even being gay is easier for heterosexuals? Dave seems like a nice guy and not at all homophobic. But it is still a dick move to appropriate the trust that comes from a relationship that should be devoid of sexual tension. I will say this to you once, guys and them I’m crackin’ skulls: stop pretending to be gay. Not just to get next to a girl you like, but also to make your friends laugh. You make me cringe, not just because it is offensive to me, but you SUCK SO PERFECTLY AT IT I could only have assumed you two were going steady. You have no understanding of the reasons behind the swish, so you always end up doing shoddy caricature.
Other than those GIANT GLARING FLAWS, I enjoyed the movie. There were a lot of little nods to the nerds – in one scene a marquee advertises “The Spirit 3” a dig at Frank Miller’s 2008 box office flop. The fight scenes are all artfully ripped off from better movies, so if you get bored you can think about how much you liked those movies when you first saw them. It is not the worst way to spend an afternoon, but I’d suggest you wait for the DVD release. Better to be offended at home.