The headline just doesn’t have the same ring as the one on my review of Kick-Ass, does it? I wanted to get my leftover thoughts about the movie closer to its DVD release last Tuesday, but more pressing matters intervened. Just as well, since I got the chance to see it once again on disc.
Matthew Vaughn’s ode to comic books underperformed at the box-office, but it’s useful to remember that certain films are wrongly labeled flops because of expectations. The studio thought this would be a huge hit in America because it was a huge hit in Britain, where it was released about a month before it came here. Perhaps the movie will find the American audience it deserves on home video. A sequel has already been announced; it would be nice if this scenario played out like the Harold and Kumar films, where the second movie got big crowds after the first one got smaller ones. However, it would be even nicer if the sequel turned out awesomer than Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay.
A disproportionate amount of the criticism here focused on Hit Girl and her use of the word “cunt” just before she kills a bunch of gangsters. I wasn’t offended by the usage, nor did I find it hilarious. But here’s the point that everybody missed: This is a British film. Granted, that’s easy to lose track of because the movie’s set in America and all the actors are either Americans or Brits with American accents, but Vaughn and co-writer Jane Goldman are British, and as we know, British people are much freer in their use of the c-word than we are. In fact, they usually apply the word to men, as Hit Girl does. Nina Shen Rastogi usefully pointed out that critics here were much more offended by an 11-year-old white girl using profanity in this movie than they were by a similarly aged African-American boy using similar language in Role Models. Still, the usage is an error, not just because it’s an out-of-place Britishism in an American story, but also because it makes no sense from a character standpoint. Since nobody around Hit Girl — including her dad — uses profanity on a regular basis, where would she learn such language from? Then again, Mark Millar said the use of the word was one thing that convinced Vaughn to sign onto the project, so there’s that.
(To address Shen Rastogi’s point about the movie’s racial politics: The African-American gangstas aren’t killed because one of them has been harassing Katie, a white girl. The harassment is why Kick-Ass is there, but they’re killed by Hit Girl and Big Daddy solely because they work for the D’Amico mob.)
Another Britishism in the script comes out better: The superhero name Red Mist refers to British slang — when a person becomes insane with anger and does something stupid or crazy, he or she is said to be seeing red mist, or having the red mist descend on them. Co-writer Jane Goldman is married to someone famous, though her husband Jonathan Ross is far less known to Americans than he is to British crowds as an all-around TV personality. Goldman caused a stir at the UK premiere of Kick-Ass by wearing this outfit.
If you’re unfamiliar with some of the actors, Chloë Grace Moretz stars in Let Me In, the upcoming Hollywood remake of Let the Right One In that apparently impressed lots of people at Comic-Con. Mark Strong already played the heavies in Sunshine and Sherlock Holmes, and will play the villain Sinestro in the Green Lantern movie. He’s probably ready to portray a nice guy by now. As for Nicolas Cage, here’s a thoughtful recent appraisal of his strange, strange career. Aaron Johnson auditioned with an American accent, and it was apparently so good that it fooled Vaughn. The 20-year-old actor just became a father along with the 42-year-old woman who directed him in the John Lennon biopic Nowhere Boy that’s out later this year. So many male directors fall for their hot young leading ladies, it’s nice to see the reverse happen once in a while. There’s a cameo appearance by former Witchblade star Yancy Butler as Frank’s wife. Elizabeth McGovern pops up as Dave’s mom, only to drop dead without a single line of dialogue. Wonder what the story was there.
Miscellaneous notes: When Dave asks Katie about which comic books she’s read, she names Scott Pilgrim as one of her favorites. We can take that as a promo for the upcoming movie, which I can’t wait to see. Matthew Vaughn is married to Claudia Schiffer, so we see Hit Girl and Big Daddy framed dramatically against a giant billboard depicting Mrs. Vaughn. If you’re fascinated by the look of the film, there’s a coffee table book out. There’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it in-joke on a movie theater’s marquee, advertising The Spirit 3, which would presumably be the second sequel to this disaster. As a film critic, I’m glad I don’t live in the Kick-Ass universe. Speaking of kick-ass, here’s the song that plays over the movie’s end credits, by The Pretty Reckless, the group fronted by Gossip Girl‘s Taylor Momsen. Nice as the song is, the lyrics seem better suited to the soundtrack to one of the Twilight movies.