And, uh, not in a good way.
Okay, I did laugh at the dog bit. Crotch jokes are always funny.
Kick-Ass 2 (2013):
The Plot: A few years after the events of Kick-Ass, Dave/Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Mindy/Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) are both trying to live normal lives as normal high school students. But—uh-oh!—Dave is bored! He wants to go back to fighting Bad Guys! And…ugh…I can’t do this. Look, Dave and Mindy end up fighting crime again, then Mindy promises her adoptive dad that she won’t fight crime anymore, then she ends up in a really crass Mean Girls knockoff, then Dave joins up with a team of superheroes led by crazy-but-fun Jim Carrey. Meanwhile, Chris/Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) accidentally kills his mom, then, ugh, decides to become a super villain named The Motherfucker. He makes a team of super villains, tries to rape Dave’s new girlfriend, some people die, then it all ends in a big, stupid brawl in a warehouse. The Motherfucker falls into a shark tank. Hit Girl leaves. Kick-Ass decides that only badasses should fight crime, so he is going to become a badass. Nicolas Cage is still dead. The. End.
I have a confession, you guys. I was a huge dork about Kick-Ass when it came out in 2010. Like, I thought it was totally awesome. Such a dork. But it wasn’t awesome. It was lame. So lame. The protagonist was bland, the satire was unfocused—when it was there at all—the tone was all over the place, and, ultimately, the film didn’t have a goddamn thing to say beyond “look at meeeeee!” Pfft. I can get that shit with a ten dollar bottle of wine and a mirror. So yeah. I was wrong. But with the benefit of hindsight or maturity or whatever, what would I think of Kick-Ass 2? Did the series grown up with me?
Whatever your feelings were about Kick-Ass, they will probably also be your feelings about Kick-Ass 2. Dave is still an empty vessel for lonely teenagers and repressed adults to fill with their own twisted fantasies of ultra-violence and dirty sex. Hit Girl is still a foul-mouthed kid with a penchant for cartoonish murder. The bad guys are still Bad Guys—now with 100% more attempted rape!—and the good guys are still all pretty effed up in the head. The humor is still juvenile, and the “serious” moments still jarring. Watching Kick-Ass 2 is like being in one of those movies where you go back in time to high school, but instead of re-living your glory days you just spend two hours wanting to slap your younger self in the face.
Does that all sound a little rant-y and unfounded to you? Oh, ye of little faith. That was just the prelude. We’ve established the characters, gotten John McClane off the plane. Now I’m going to storm Nakatomi Plaza. There will be no survivors.
I’m…not sure why I went with that metaphor. Anyway, here’s a bunch of reasons why this movies is lame:
There Are Three Storylines (And None of Them Are All That Compelling)
As I said earlier, Dave is fucking bland. He’s also kind of annoying. As a character, his motivations rarely extend beyond “this seems cool” and “the script wants me to have a Moment of Self-Awareness.” None of his repetitive epiphanies—“this is the real world!”—are organic, because we never get a sense that there’s anything going on below the surface. On top of being painfully shallow, Dave is also not the kind of guy who you want to spend two hours with. He’s whiny and selfish and, above all, a massive tool. On paper, that sounds like the perfect character for your comic book satire movie. Except that Kick-Ass 2 spends so much time trying to convince us that Dave is cool and the things he does are awesome that it totally undercuts any attempts at real satire.
The same is true for The Motherfucker. Hey, how come you call him by his super-name and not Dave? Because I just hate it so much, that’s why. Now shut up and listen to me rant.
Much like Dave, The Motherfucker only does things because he thinks they’re cool. But if we don’t, then why should we care? Also like Dave, The Motherfucker has “feelings” and learns “lessons,” or at least the script wants us to think that he does. It’s almost like the filmmakers hoped that if they threw enough boobs, cool music, and cartoonish violence at us, that we’d overlook the howling void beneath the movie’s polished surface. Cash bribes only, guys.
Again, I realize that the Motherfucker being a loser kid and Dave being a “normal” teenager is kind of the point. Dressing up in costumes to fight crime is pretty ridiculous, so all the heroes are either total psychopaths or dumb kids with delusions of grandeur. I get it. These movies have a point. They just don’t make it well.
The third plot involves Hit Girl’s attempts to be a normal teenager. It starts out pretty well, with the film’s one moment of genuine satire. At a sleepover, Mindy watches her first boy band music video, and discovers that she’s interested in boys on a whole new, non-murder-y level.
Further research indicates that this band is totally real. I am disappointed.
After that, it devolves into the kind of exaggerated “popular girls are heartless bitches” narrative that we’re bombarded with because Hollywood kind of hates women. It’s sort of like Mean Girls, if Mean Girls were written by that bitter, awful nerd who turns his sexual frustration into a source of internet vitriol. You know who I mean. Yeah, the friendzone guy.
Which brings me to my next point:
So Hip and Edgy!
Cartoonish violence! A cool soundtrack and heroic score! Sex! Casual murder! Attempted rape that turns into an implied savage beating and probably still rape, just by a different guy!
Of course, Mark Millar, who wrote the original comics, is known for pushing the boundaries of taste. Remember that guy in art class who wouldn’t stop telling dead baby jokes to your pregnant teacher? Yeah, he’s that guy. But rich. And he’s telling the jokes under the guise of…satire? I guess? Man, you tell me.
In conclusion, Kick-Ass 2 is exactly why you should pick on nerds in high school. Because once nerds think they’re cool, they start making this shit.
If you don’t hate yourself and you want to watch a dark, violent comedy about superheroes in the “real world,” just watch Super. It has heart and depth and it’s actually funny. And it’s on Netflix. Or, if you live in the DC Metro area, you can can rent it at your local video store.