Unfunny Games

Kick-Ass 2: adapted and directed by Jeff Wadlow from the comic book by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.; starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass), Chloe Grace Moretz (Hit Girl), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Chris D’Amico), Jim Carrey (Colonel Stars and Stripes),  and Clark Duke (Marty) (2013): Wow. This isn’t the worst superhero movie ever made, but it certainly tries to be. But what’s weird is that the abrupt tonal shifts, from quasi-satirical bloodbath to schmaltz and back again, aren’t that unusual in modern action movies. The modern blockbuster is often half-sentimentality, half-affectless spectacle.

I do wonder how much studio re-writing and re-editing occurred. The movie doesn’t build to anything. Moreover, it has an awful lot of scenes in which people endlessly explain their motivations. Jim Carrey is only in the movie for 8 minutes. Earnest scenes of sentimentality butt up against a badly written riff on Mean Girls or Heathers. Schmaltzy death scenes and funeral scenes abruptly give way to scenes of carnage played strictly for laughs.

The ‘comical’ violence gets a bit jarring when one ‘comical’ Russian super-villain kills ten police officers in assorted ‘hilarious’ ways. But then we’re back to nominal hero Kick-Ass telling someone that this “isn’t a comic book.” Well, no, it isn’t. It’s a terrible, terrible movie. And yet it’s strangely symptomatic of a lot of action movies. It’s a mess, and everything about it rings completely false.

The first Kick-Ass was an over-praised but enjoyable parody of super-heroes that turned into a bombastic superhero movie by the end. This is all bombast, even the ostensive satire. Michael Moorcock might call it “deadly jolite,” and he’d be right. Not recommended unless you’re writing a Ph.D. dissertation on superhero movies.

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