AWFJ Women On Film – “Kick-Ass” – Review by Susan Granger

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Make no mistake: this is an ultra-violent, R-rated action fantasy, adapted from a graphic novel that’s an irreverent, wish-fulfillment riff on superheroes and aimed at a specific, comic-book crazed audience. Even though I don’t consider myself part of that niche group, I can see where – for the enlightened – it could be gory, depraved fun.

There’s no doubt that Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) is a sad-sack loser who yearns to be a superhero. He’s a geeky Manhattan teenager who dons a goofy green-and-yellow costume, actually a scuba-diving wetsuit that he purchased on the Internet, and goes out into the mean streets out to fight crime. Combating a couple of car-thieving local thugs, his first outing is not only disastrous but almost fatal, landing him in the hospital. But a bystander videotapes him in his costume and puts the clip on YouTube, where he becomes a web sensation. Months later, having undergone extensive ‘reconstructive’ surgery that renders him immune to feeling pain, he’s back in action as Kick-Ass, hoping to impress a comely classmate, Katie Deauxma (Lyndsy Fonseca). Certainly, he’s not as adept as the father-daughter vigilante team of disgraced/framed former cop Damon Macready and his awesome, pint-sized, pre-teen daughter Mindy – a.k.a. Big Daddy and Hit Girl (Nicolas Cage and Chloe Grace Maretz), clad in appropriately cheesy costumes. Plus there’s another masked crusader, nerdy Chris D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), who goes by the moniker Red Mist, and his father, Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong), the dastardly mobster/villain.

Director Matthew Vaughn (“Stardust,” “Layer Cake”), screenwriter/producer Jane Goldman and production designer Russell De Rozario maintain Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.’s dark, sometimes obscure humor. It’s clever casting Chloe Grace Maretz as the spunky, katana-wielding, foul-mouthed, 11 year-old scene-stealer and Britisher Aaron Johnson as the typical American teenager; in stark contrast, Johnson will be seen next as John Lennon in “Nowhere Boy.” Not surprisingly, Nicolas Cage goes over-the-top obsessive with his dual character and Batman-like/Adam West disguise. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Kick-Ass” is a slick, savvy, send-up 7, offering a brazen, aptly-named counter-culture diversion.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.