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We will repeat what we wrote in our review of the first Kick Ass (now lost due to a disk crash). Yes this is a comic book adapted to movies. That written, it is Absolutely Not For Children.
IN SHORT: Rocks better than a shot of testosterone. [Rated R. minutes]
We are reminded of being about 21 years old, out of the clutches of parental units, old enough to drink and making barely enough money in our first job. That mind set thought using four letter words as part of "normal" language was cool and that, pretty much, is the mind set of the Kick Ass movie(s). IF you haven't figured that out from the title (or from the first movie), you're not paying nearly enough attention. In other words, don't be shocked at the "R" rating in a film which pays as much attention to the rites of passage known as "being the cool kid in high school" and all the self-important drama of those years, as it does to letting geeks in capes beat the junk out of each other.
That written, what makes Kick Ass 2 work is all the other language -- the non 4-letter kind. The comic book team of Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr. established a solid universe with background stories galore and enough humor to offset the violence and gushing blood that filled the four color comics pages. Screenwriter/director Jeff Wadlow has kept his film pretty close to their original work. It is violent and rowdy, stuffed with teen angst and high school cliques and all that good stuff that either hits home or makes us old folks cringe with nostalgia.
The good news is that Kick Ass 2 picks up where 2010's Kick Ass left off . . . the better news is that anyone who didn't see the first film will pick up all that is needed from this film's screenplay. The simple summary of the first film is that three teenagers make like comic book superheroes and fight crime. Except that one of the three is the son of a now deceased criminal type who wants revenge on the other . . . and secret identities get in the way of making this an easy "school kids have a fight scenario."
So, in this corner is . . .
Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) aka Kick Ass, whose father (Garrett M. Brown) is dead set against his son putting on that stupid costume ever again. Dave is, as best we can figure, in the eleventh grade at Millard Fillmore High School. Two years back is the one person Dave considers to be a "real" super hero. She is the orphaned Mindy MacReady aka Hit Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz). Now in the custody of her dead cop father's partner Detective Marcus Williams (Morris Chestnut), Mindy is trying to walk the straight and narrow. Marcus knows all about Hit Girl. Marcus is doing his best to set the now fifteen year old high school freshman on a proper path. When Mindy strays from that path, Marcus brings the hammer down and elicits a promise that, effectively, removes the girl from the super hero "community."
Yes, "Community." The heroics of Kick Ass have inspired a whole class of nerds and geeks to suit up and, thanks to internet message boards, a small league of good guys and gals is formed. They are called Justice Forever, led by ex-mob enforcer turned superhero who has taken the name Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey). The Colonel is a tough, no nonsense, no foul language kind of guy. His partner is a dog named Eisenhower. Also in Justice Forever: newbie hero Doctor Gravity (Donald Faison); a new love interest for KA named Miranda Swedlow aka Night Bitch (Lindy Booth); Insect Man (Robert Emms); Dave's high school pals Marty aka Battle Guy (Clark Duke) and Todd aka Ass Kicker (Augustus Prew) and the lovable if somewhat pathetic "Tommy's Mom and Dad" (Monica Dolan and Steven Mackintosh), who fight because someone kidnapped their son.
Just a side note: the so called "Ass Kicker" is proof that the internet goes way too far in messing up secret identities. He is the perfect parody of the good guy who becomes a bad guy who becomes a good guy. Find a fanboy to explain that paradox to you. Onwards . . .
Since you can't have Good Guys without having Bad Guys, welcome back Dave's former friend Chris D'Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). In Kick Ass, D'Amico was a fallen hero called Red Mist, the son of a mob boss whose grisly death at Kick Ass' hands is recounted within this film. Now, Chris is being steered to the "right path" by a domineering mother (Yancy Butler), who has moved the family to a Long Island suburb and hired a security goon, Javier (John Leguizamo) to watch over the kid.
Still, Chris wishes his mom was dead. Yes, well, be careful what you wish for and all that. The kidlet finds an S&M styled costume amongst his mother's things and decides to play dress up. The result is a new super-villain whose name, as presented on the official website is "The Motherf%&*‏^r" . . .
There's a minor bit of attempted character building on the part of Chris' Uncle Ralph (Iain Glen), who is doing time in a New York prison. Uncle Ralph's actions send Chris the wrong message and the kid goes over the edge, deciding to raise an army of super-villain wannabees to take over New York. "Mom etcetera" uses his inherited millions to form a team -- Mother Russia (Olga Kurkulina), The Tumor (Andy Nyman), Black Death (Daniel Kaluuya), Genghis Carnage (Tom Wu) -- to destroy Kick Ass and all that Kick Ass holds dear.
There is a great plot twist that comes early enough that we could spill it . . . but we won't. We written what appears to be a whole mess of stuff that, just by volume, would appear to give the story away. Nope. That's how dense the Kick Ass 2 story is.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Kick-Ass 2, he would have paid . . .
In a week filled with way too many serious movies, Kick Ass 2 is the only one that got applause from (our) sneak preview audience.
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