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?
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.
AS: The 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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
BP: And the main character was extremely boring.
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.
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!