A distinctly British term comes to mind in describing the unmistakably American “Kick-Ass 2.” That word is ‘cheeky.’ For those of you who don’t love meat pies, keeping calm and carrying on, and referring to the subway as “The Tube,” Urban Dictionary defines the expression as “someone or something that does or says something sort of disrespectful and rude, but does so in a cunning way.” Director Jeff Wadlow’s (Never Back Down) take on Mark Miller’s graphic novel series is just that: rude, lewd, and all together smart, fun and entertaining. It is exactly the film the original wanted to be, but — just to be ‘cheeky’ — didn’t have the cojones to pull it off.
Wadlow’s sequel finds the super-hero wannabe Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) in very familiar circumstances as the first movie. He busily trains with his pint-sized super-friend Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz), beats up bad guys for fun, and desperately hides his alter ego from his fellow high school friends. You know, typical super hero stuff.
After Hit Girl — Mandy Macready to the rest of the world — is forced to retire her secret identity and adopt a much more domestic high school demeanor, Kick-Ass finds himself without his ‘Robin.’ This doesn’t last long, as he finds a new team of masked heroes with equally obnoxious alter egos like: Dr. Gravity (Donald Faison), Night Bitch (Lindy Booth), Battle Guy (Clark Duke), and Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey). With Kick-Ass becoming less and less like his nerdy Dave Lizewski high school self, and Hit Girl transforming into a mini-skirt wearing popular girl instead of a throwing star wielding mercenary for justice, times are truly changing in the “Kick-Ass” world.
By equally emphasizing both characters, “Kick-Ass 2” functions almost like two separate movies.
On the one hand, Kick-Ass’ super hero mission — complete with an evil villain (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) that has a name so crude it cannot be repeated in this article — is straight forward, over the top comic book satire. No Stan Lee inspired caped crusader is safe from being the butt of a joke. Wadlow also makes sure to follow up each pithy punch line with plenty of actual bloody punches to the face.
Jim Carrey, as a former mob boss turned born-again Christian crime fighter, marries this blend of action and humor particularly well. His Colonel Stars and Stripes character doesn’t see anything wrong with busting a thug’s skull in with a blunt wooden bat while his dog feasts on said thug’s genitals, yet cannot stand when one of his crime fighting friends takes the Lord’s name is vain. And thank God, because it makes for some very memorable scenes!
On the other end of the spectrum, Hit Girl’s high school story is just as ridiculous. In dressing the former killer in “Pretty Little Liars” inspired miniskirts, Wadlow is able to dissect the hilarity that is public high school. But just because Hit Girl goes by Mindy now, doesn’t mean she has completely moved on from her former self. She is all about justice, even if it’s only against her petty classmates. This doesn’t mean, however, her revenge is any less messy and graphic.
Jeff Wadlow’s follow up to 2010’s “Kick-Ass” is much deeper than its predecessor. Instead of repeating the same “this is real life, not a comic book” joke over and over again, “Kick-Ass 2” is a film that all high schoolers — the intended demographic for this R-rated flick — can relate to, even if they don’t know the difference between DC and Marvel comics.
With Facebook, Twitter, and so many other ways to create alternate identities and disguises, “Kick-Ass 2” is not afraid to point out how stupid and meaningless these social media methods are. Don’t let the catchy soundtrack, bodily dismemberment, and foul language fool you. “Kick-Ass 2” is an incredibly smart, immensely enjoyable, film.
By David Morris