Defining what counts as “satire,” seems to be more and more difficult, especially in the cynical internet-age where “irony,” and “sarcasm,” are losing their meaning by the tweet. Seth MacFarlene’s biggest detractors point to his Oscar hosting gig where he got away with making racist jokes or singing songs like “We Saw Your Boobs,” by making fun of immaturity and ignorance at the same time. In the end , the jokes are out there and those who don’t understand the intent and even those who do still laugh at them.
2010’s Kick-Ass managed to balance between making fun of the superhero blockbuster while still having plenty of ultra violence. In the sequel, new director Jeff Wadlow fails to find the balance of the first film by fully committing to making an action film. This wouldn’t be a bad thing if the film didn’t believe it was still lampooning the genre.
The film opens on the familiar narration from Kick-Ass/Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) that followed through the first film though it’s less used in the sequel as he takes a back seat to Hit-Girl/Mindy Macready (Chloe Grace Moretz) who is starting her freshman year of high school by cutting to train Kick-Ass so they can patrol the streets together, honoring her superhero-father’s legacy. Mindy’s adopted father (Morris Chestnut) puts the squeeze on this in an attempt to protect from the life her father led and caused his murder.
This is one of the areas where the film succeeds. The idea of these heroes being as responsible for their enemies crimes was touched on int The Dark Knight but is actually addressed more head-on here. When we get to the final showdown between the make-shift Justice League, Justice Forever and an equally amature League of Doom, it’s just a gang fight (two of the older superheros in the group even bring this up). While the brawl mines some inspiring moments from the minor Justice Forever heroes fighting together, the true motivations make it a selfish endeavor. Kick-Ass just wants to end the personal attacks from the worlds first real super villain, The Motherfucker/Chris D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) who seeks revenge from for Kick-Ass killing his mobster father at the end of the first film…and fame.
D’Amico and his alter-ego should be addressed because his character is one of the most problematic to come out of a summer blockbuster in a long time. Mintz-Plasse is very good at turning the spoiled D’Amico into a sinister super villain however the character is exemplary of the films reveling in violence. The scene that’s getting the most attention is a poorly conceived rape joke where D’Amico can’t get aroused to assault a female member of Justice Forever. The intent is to prove D’Mico is a true pretender but once he says a line showing his intentions, he becomes a rapist, regardless of his motivations or the outcome. Furthermore, his “failing,” the first go around doesn’t justify his successful attack later on.
Both of these attacks are meant to target the titular hero but the script belongs to Moretz despite Taylor Johnson making the most with not much to do. The best material in the film follows Hit-Girl’s transition into high school. Her Heathers experience with the local mean girls is a lot of fun and the script hits that annoying teenage girl character perfectly. Moretz is also the only actor asked to go through any internal arc and she handles it perfectly. Its her arc and performance that makes the penultimate scene find the films only truly touching moment.
Supposedly, the film’s message is “We Could Be Heroes,” but it’s in the stylings of The Wallflowers cover, not the David Bowie original. For some reason that song was on the Godzilla (1997) soundtrack and like that cover, the irony is lost, choosing to embrace the violence that was only a small piece of the charm of the original.