Posted by: greercn | April 2, 2010

Kick-Ass

Cartoon fans can rejoice. Kick-Ass – yes, it is uncomfortable to ask for a ticket for that in a long queue at the Stratford Picture House – is a delightful movie and gets the feel of the new generation of cartoons absolutely right. It’s entertaining, violent and stylish. Like all the best cartoons, it’s a visual treat. Yet you are watching real people acting like cartoons and that energy guides the film.

The title will give you a clue that clean  language is not Matthew Vaughn’s forte. You have to get through the swearing and the grisly killings to really get into this. If you are a Tarantino fan, you will be very happy here.

Aaron Johnson was brilliant as John Lennon in “Nowhere Boy” and he plays much the same role here. Different from the popular kids, he strives to be noticed. Only this time, he doesn’t pick up a guitar, but mail orders a superhero costume and starts looking for wrongs to right.

Mark Strong is the nastiest of bad guys. He’s a stereotype, but  this very British actor puts on an impressive American accent, as does Johnson. The supporting cast are all good, with Chloe Grace Moretz featuring as a jailbait sidekick to another superhero – or super bad guy, depending on whether you think Nicolas Cage is right or wrong in his role as a man on a quest for revenge.

Those who are annoyed by Nicolas Cage won’t be so annoyed watching him in this. You know who you are, but do trust me. You can handle this. His fans will love the control and cartoon homage he brings to this role.

Christopher Mintz-Plasse brings huge energy and presence to his dual role as the pampered son of Mark Strong’s character and a good/bad superhero. He is showing signs of building up to work that will interest me a lot more than “Superbad” did. I’ll watch out for him as he has an interesting approach to projecting character beyond that given by his lines in the script.

It took me ten minutes to figure out the interiors and some exteriors were shot in Toronto and not New York, but that won’t occur to you unless you are a fellow Canadian film geek who looks closely at lighting. It’s technical stuff; Canadian light is different from American light.

Basically, it’s good versus evil with a nice line in humour and a good sense of teenage preoccupations. Like all comic book heroes, our teenagers all have dead mothers, so nobody is supervising them too closely. Mintz-Plasse still has his mother, but she disappears quite literally out of the plot halfway through the movie, having told her son to eat his oatmeal and – well – that’s all she says to him, ever.

It’s a good way to pass a couple of hours and you won’t look at your watch at all. My enjoyment of this was all the more surprising as I usually know which film I will see next and I had a three-way decision to make this time. Of the choices, this was the one I was least into seeing as I didn’t much like the cinema trailer and thought it was really annoying and vulgar. I was wrong. It’s good fun and I laughed out loud, as did everyone else watching it.

This very British film has a compelling transAtlantic feel and that brings great theatrical charm to the whole and that takes it beyond what seems at first to be a Jane Goldman/Matthew Vaughn vanity project. I will go see the sequel. And yes, I am sure there will be a sequel.

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