The Trouble with Quibbles: Kick-Ass

Over the weekend Bryan and I saw Kick-Ass. And we thought it would be a fitting film to start our new column: The Trouble with Quibbles, where the two of us sit down and discuss a movie that we’ve both seen, and most likely disagree about, instead of writing two reviews. And frankly, even if we both like a film, there’s bound to be something we disagree about. So, here we agree to disagree:
AS:  Well, I did really like Kick-Ass… but I think everyone hyped it up so much that it couldn’t possibly live up to my expectations.
BP:  So you liked it but it wasn’t the second coming of The Dark Knight?
AS:  No, not really, better than Watchmen, not as good as Dark Knight.
BP:  I guess right there I will have to disagree with you
AS:  You liked Watchmen better than Kick-Ass?
BP:  Yes.
AS:  Have you read the book?
BP Kick-Ass, no. Watchmen, yes.
AS:  Has your love of Breaking Bad led you to start smoking crack? Cause compared to the book, Watchmen was disappointing.
BP:  Oh yeah, totally agree.  My opinion of Watchmen is that it was extremely flawed but still had enough goodness rubbed off from the book to make it an interesting piece. It is not a ton better than Kick-Ass, but the opening montage is better than anything in Kick-Ass.
AS:  “Goodness rubbed off from the book,” I really hope I didn’t lend you my copy of Watchmen to read.
BP:  You did, and thank you very much.
AS:  Gross. And this is the second time you’ve said the opening of something made the entire thing worthwhile. (Previously: Charlie & the Chocolate Factory.) Granted, the opening of Watchmen was amazing, but nothing else in the movie was on that level. It was pretty much all downhill from there. At least Kick-Ass got better as it progressed.
BP:  I think there were some other sequences that were good, but yeah back to the film at hand.  I think it appeared that Kick-Ass got better, but really showed its big flaw as it progressed, and that was trying to have its cake and eat it too.  I like some of Kick-Ass, but really feel it was a disappointment.
AS:  What do you mean?
BP:  I kind of agree with most of the bad reviews, not that it was morally bad or whatever, which I could give a shit about, but that the tone was so off it didn’t allow me to turn my brain off and enjoy the cool blood splatter.
AS:  That’s what you mean by “have its cake and eat it too,” it was too dark for you to enjoy it?
BP:  Like, it tried to be this satire about a real world wannabe, but a lot of the “real” world felt very fake, not stylized, but backlot fake, and then the second half became this over the top comic book world and it would go back and forth without any coherence as to what kind of universe the film is taking place in.
AS:  So, your problem is that this film, based on a comic book involving ordinary people trying to be superheroes only to succeed and find themselves in an entirely new realm of existence, lacks cohesion?
BP:  One of my problems, yeah.  You try to make it sound like I should expect less of it, but The Dark Knight had more of a real world setting.
AS:  Are you familiar with the storytelling idea of: “thesis, antithesis, synthesis,” cause this seemed to me like a perfect example.
BP:  Don’t attack me with your fancy words.
ASThe Dark Knight isn’t a satire. It doesn’t want you to think about how ridiculous the idea of vigilante heroes is.
BP:  But Kick-Ass has a character that pretty much seems invincible until the script needed her not to be.  A vigilante that wasn’t so ridiculous in a film with one that was.Look, it wasn’t a piece of crap. There was stuff I enjoyed. Hit-Girl and Big Daddy are cool characters. The violence was fun. Some stuff was pretty funny, especially Clark Duke as Kick-Ass’ best friend. And there was a death scene (Car compactor) I’m surprised I haven’t seen in a horror film before. But, there was a lot that really bugged me.
AS:  Car compactor scene in Superman 3.
BP:  Never saw that. Was it as bloody as this one?
AS:  What do you think?
BP:  I like the way it was like four different crushes before it went splat made it look real and visceral.
AS:  Did not look like a pleasant way to go, at all.
BP:  Like he was still flailing around for a few seconds.
AS:  And Hit-Girl wasn’t invincible. She was getting shot. She just had a bullet proof vest. No one fought her hand to hand until the end.
BP:  Come on, she was untouchable and then she ran out of weapons, which made no sense, there were plenty of dead bodies with fully loaded weapons lying around. But there again, there’s an action scene that plays like something out of Kill Bill, but then the next fight it becomes “real”. The tone just was never consistent. Maybe we agree on some other stuff that didn’t work? Like say Aaron Johnson, the romance, or (my other big peeve) the music?
AS:  I wish the story was more about Hit-Girl and Big Daddy.
BP:  Me too. I kind of wanted no satire and just a straight up kick-ass Hit-Girl and Big Daddy movie.
AS:  Hit-Girl and Big Daddy are satire.
BP:  But not really or at least not the same as Kick-ass (the character).
AS:  WHAT!?!? Seriously, what are you smoking? Stop.
BP:  What?
AS:  They are sooooo satire. How can you not see that?
BP:  Look, Kick-Ass tried to be a hero and failed, he was not good at it at all and by the end he still wasn’t, despite having metal bones and no nerves. Hit-Girl and Big Daddy by comparison were excellent crime fighters. I wanted more training and more insight into their relationship and how the whole training your kid to be a killer thing works.
AS:  Success as a crime fighter has no bearing on their status as satire. That’s not what satire means.
BP:  So, by being just like a million other comic stories, Hit-Girl and Big Daddy were satire? Honestly the plot boiled down to a REVENGE story
AS:  Hit-Girl and Big Daddy are pretty clearly evocative of Batman & Robin.
BP:  I don’t think they point out anything ridiculous about Batman & Robin when they still avenge people and kill the bad guys in over the top ways.
AS:  The idea of encouraging a child to endanger themselves to fight crime is not ridiculous to you? Using an impressionable child as tool to enact your revenge, that’s not something worthy of satire, really?
BP: Okay here’s another example: there were two big action scenes that used music from Danny Boyle movies.  Two cues that happen to be two of my fav pieces of music from movies in the last 10 years. Great music and the scenes looked cool with the awesome music.  The problem is the music is super-dramatic and the movie is not super-dramatic or at least I thought it wasn’t supposed to be.  The tone of the music doesn’t fit what the rest of the movie is telling me I should be feeling.
AS:  Fuck the music. I want to know what your definition of satire is, cause it seems a bit off.
BP:  I don’t think it counts without pointing out the inherent ridiculousness of it.  I agree it is ridiculous and inherent, but the movie itself (not the idea) doesn’t do anything to point that out. Instead they make it look fun and cool, they become what they are failing to satirize. By contrast something like Hot Fuzz points out the ridiculous while being a ridiculous action film.  The most pointing out that Kick-Ass does is in the opening scenes involving Kick-Ass.
AS:  Did you fall asleep during the movie or something? Do I need to show you the definition of satire?
BP: If it was satire (you could be right, so what), it didn’t work. It failed, it did a bad job.
AS:  If I’m right, then it did work. And you just don’t know what satire is. It is so clearly satire.
BP:  It was bad satire.
AS:  Ugh.
BP:  And the main character was extremely boring.
AS:  Agreed.
BP:  His romance laughable. He basically tells you from the first line that he is not interesting and becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
AS:  I wish Millar had just gone with his original idea of writing the story about just Hit-Girl and Big Daddy.
BP: Yeah, I read that too. I wish the movie kept Millar’s idea of Big Daddy just being some crazy guy and not an ex-cop.
AS:  And I liked the kid playing Kick-Ass, just not the character.
BP:  Yeah, he couldn’t do much to make it work.
AS:  I didn’t loath him, or anything. Dave is just, true to form, boring. That was his name, right? I don’t even remember.
BP:  Yeah, right. So boring and forgettable.
AS:  I think I liked all of the villain’s goons more than Dave.
BP:  I also thought that even though individually the action scenes were cool, they were repetitive, a bunch of baddies in a room and someone takes them all out with unstoppable force.
AS:  And is it me, or was almost all the action already in the trailer?
BP:  That too. I don’t know. It had some stuff that was fun, like I said, but the tone shifts and the main character and the fact that I wish I was watching a completely different movie makes this one a C+ for me.
AS:  It was slow, the music was crap (according to you, I didn’t really care either way), the main character wasn’t very interesting, the subplot overshadowed the “main” plot… yeah, I didn’t love it. It was ok, but I did like it better than Watchmen. Liked it, but didn’t love it. So, I’m gonna give it a B.
BP:  Despite you insulting my intelligence in regards to satire, I knew you’d see it my way.
AS:  I don’t see it your way. It is a satire, and successfully so. You just have some weird definition of satire.
BP:  But you still think the film misses when it could have been so much more.
AS:  Yes, but it didn’t fail as a satire.
BP:  Aghhhhhh!!!!!!!!
AS:  It is satirizing, that’s almost all it’s got. Don’t take that away from it.
BP:  I take whatever I want from it, damn it!
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14 responses to “The Trouble with Quibbles: Kick-Ass

  1. I am really going to love Quibbles. More, please!

  2. I think you were both jaded by your expectations. I fucking loved Kick-Ass, but then I didn’t see a single commercial for it before my brother dragged me to see it. I expected it to be dim-witted, and when I saw the director was by the same guy who murdered Stardust, I expected even less. But I still liked it.
    1st) Yes it is a satire. Duh. Dude dresses up as Batman and kills the shit out of people, and you think this is not a jest? (In case you didn’t know Batman doesn’t kill people). Although, it is a satire with a heart.
    2nd) Kick-Ass is supposed to be boring, he’s a run-o-the-mill teenager. So is Peter Parker. But then, Peter Parker never got stabbed in a parking lot then hit by a car when he was out trying to do the right thing. Peter Parker was a successful superhero, where as Dave is SO not. That’s the interesting bit, he doesn’t even have super powers he just wants to go out and do the right thing. He’s noble. Where as, Big Daddy and Hit-Girl just want to go out and get revenge, they even steal from who they massacre. In the realm of comic books, their actions are probably closer to villains than heroes. But they’re good at what they do. Dave is you at your best; Hit-Girl is who you wish to be but never will.
    3)Dave’s romance is supposed to be laugh-able, he’s a 17 year old comic book geek. He pretends to be gay just to spend time with a girl, then instead of professing their love, they profess that they ‘care’, a lack-luster and undramatic emotion. It’s making fun of teenagers. A satire. I’m surprised he actually got with her, apparently in the book that never happens.
    4th)I do agree that the climax was a bit off, why does she run out of ammo when weapons abound? She takes that gun then never touches it? That was stupid, and could have been written better. Also, the whole coffee shop/comic store hang out was super dumb too. I’ve never seen a comic store that serves pastries

    I wouldn’t put this movie in the instant classic/work of genius category, but I thought it was clever and fun and better than I’ve seen in a while.

    • I think I’m just jaded in general. Thanks for the thorough comment. I’m sure Bryan will be starting an argument of some sort with you in the very near future.

      • Bryan Parrill

        Not really. I think she has some good points. She does say it’s not “classic/work of genius” which I think we’ve heard from others and disagree with. I thought it was sometimes fun just not very clever.

        Let’s see, point one, satire=yes. I see that it is satire, I think it is poor satire, lazy satire. Has nothing unique or new to say about the genre.

        Point two and three I have the same defense, sure he’s supposed to be boring and his romance laughable (Which when she said she “cared” about him the theater I was in laughed hysterically, I didn’t see what was so funny and had to actually ask Adam what I missed.) but if not handled correctly it will just be boring and laughable and not clever. (and so uninteresting I forgot to laugh.)

        And your last point is spot on. I agree with comic shop. This was another point I didn’t get to with Adam, but the whole universe felt so off not just for previously stated reasons but for things like a comic/coffee shop, where lots of people (a lot of them girls) hang out. That never felt right. Or the way the news covered Kick-Ass or the Live web feed, it felt wrong.

        I wouldn’t say I was jaded because I wasn’t expecting instant classic from what I was told beforehand, I was expecting a bloody good time at the movies but there was so much that irked I couldn’t shut my brain off and enjoy myself.

  3. I forgot how gay the comic shop was.

    I just wanted to toss in how much the first act reminded me of the stupid optimism of the first Spider-Man. It’s got the classic boring comic origin story. The look is very bright, much like Spider-Man. However after Dave gets beaten to a pulp and eventually meets Hit Girl you find that this world is very violent and perverse. Yet the style never changes, the movie is still bright, everythings a little too optimistic to be New York. This could be another burrow of Spider-Mans neighborhood. A fucked suburb.

    And how did Bryan miss the Batman & Robin jab? If anything you gotta love the movie for saying that if Batman & Robin arent killing the shit out of evil doers, they arent doing their fucking job very well.

    And I think the fact Watchmen reminded me every now and then of the comic made me mad. How did they make that so fucking boring? I also believe it should become a “Shooting th Script” rule that a movies credits cannot salvage it.

    Looks like Bryan has to add Satire in with condoms to the list of things he just doesn’t understand.

  4. I don’t think citing Spider-Man is a good way to convince me that Kick-Ass was good considering the first one was “meh”.

    There were other cool things in the Watchmen movie (Dr. Manhattan origin montage, Jackie Earle Haley) to salvage it from being a complete waste of time.

    I GET THE SATIRE, (and condoms) I just didn’t like it (Like condoms).

    • You missed what the fuck I was saying! Spider-Man isn’t good, its atmosphere is perky and gay. Kick-Ass takes that same world and injects everything that the first Spider-Man was missing, the lead characters realization that a stepping over the threshold into a life of crime fighting is fucking violent and painful.

      • Bryan Parrill

        See, I thought Kick-Ass was only perky and gay. The violence and pain while it was violent and painful was still somehow perky and gay too.

        Like when he is stabbed and then ran over, it felt very stagy (re: perky and gay) as opposed to raw and violent. Opportunity missed I say.

  5. Kelly McCumber

    I’m just glad I don’t have to hear these conversations in real life anymore…

  6. (Not touching that one)

    *That’s what she said

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