Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Chloe Grace Moretz play superheroes in 'Kick-Ass 2.' (Daniel Smith / Universal Pictures via Gannett)
‘Kick Ass 2’
Rated R — a hard R — for graphic violence, much bad language and crude sexual content.
Every kid dreams of being a superhero. Some kids just take the dream further than others.
That, in a nutshell, is the heart of “Kick-Ass 2,” the sequel to the 2010 cult hit based on the Mark Millar comic book about teenage costumed vigilantes dealing not only with the scum of the earth, but also with all the normal weirdness teens endure.
I missed the original “Kick-Ass,” which I now regret and must rectify, because as a lifelong comic book fan, I have to say this is some of the craziest stuff I’ve ever seen translated from page to screen — a wildly over-the-top mix of snarky high school humor, fast-paced action-adventure and incredibly graphic violence.
Really, what other flick will give you a super-villain dressed in vinyl BDSM gear, a bump-and-grind high school varsity dance team routine to make a stripper blush, a thug getting his hand chopped off, a guy wearing a T-shirt that says “I Hate Reboots” and a discussion about the unfortunate fashion faux pas known as “frog eyes”?
In the first film, average teen Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) decided to help make the world a better place by becoming the vigilante hero Kick-Ass — even though he usually ended up getting his tail kicked.
Now he wants his friend Mindy Macready (Chloe Grace Moretz) to train him, since she’s a real super-hero — Hit Girl, trained by her policeman father who moonlighted as Big Daddy before meeting an unfortunate end in the original film.
Dave wants to team up with her, but Mindy is now under the watchful eye of her dad’s former partner Marcus (Morris Chestnut), who’s trying to keep her out of trouble and having only moderate success. Mindy loves being Hit Girl, but another part of her wants to behave and do normal teen things, like go to a slumber party hosted by her school’s queen bee (a plot thread that leads to one of the greatest movie gross-out sight gags of the young millennium).
So a crestfallen Dave soon falls in with another group of do-gooders led by Col. Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey) and his faithful canine companion Eisenhower (must be Mamie, since the dog is a female).
The plot starts to form when another teen, Chris D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), who in the first film was the villainous Red Mist, swears revenge for the death of his crime boss dad at the hands of Kick-Ass. After accidentally killing his mother in a tragic tanning bed mishap, Chris dons one of her kinky vinyl sex outfits and hisses: “Henceforth, I will be known as the …” — well, I can’t say it in a family newspaper. But if he had a cool logo, the initials “MF” would be prominently featured.
Chris assembles a team of super-villains that includes the Tumor (because he’s small and he kills), an Asian thug christened Genghis Carnage, and Mother Russia (Olga Kurkulina), a six-foot, one-eyed, bleach-blonde, buzz-cut brick with ’roid rage to spare.
So the battle is joined — and you know Hit Girl will be wading back into the mix at some point. It’s just who she was born to be. The violence soars way off the charts in the late going, yet that’s oddly offset by the fact that much of it is perpetrated by dorky teenagers. And even when the mayhem hits its freakiest peak, the film stays firmly grounded in its sweetly appealing context of the unsteady efforts of young people trying to figure out who they are and who they want to be.
A deep and abiding love of the comic book/superhero aesthetic is a requirement to even begin to appreciate this flick; those who don’t have it will almost certainly find the whole thing ridiculous and/or revolting.
Their loss. “Kick-Ass 2” is lovingly built for grown-ups who haven’t quite finished growing up — and possibly never will.