Kick-Ass is rated R–and unlike some movies, it deserves its rating.
As to whether watching it will permanently mess with your kids’ heads — I guess that depends on the kid, and how much they actually understand about what they’re seeing. Personally, I wouldn’t risk it. (Seriously.) Not until they’re at least 17.
When it comes to letting kids watch movies that are technically rated too old for them, I’m one of the most liberal moms I know — mainly because I ALWAYS watch the films with my son, so I’m there to put things in perspective, and because we make liberal use of covering eyes and ears whenever it’s appropriate.
However, there are a lot of things about the movie Kick-Ass that are just way too maturely themed for a kid — things that sneak up on you before eyes and ears can be covered. This element of surprise may make things more interesting when it comes to adult viewing — but it’s bad for anticipating the inappropriate parts for kids. And in the movie Kick-Ass, there are several spots where they come right out and graphically show what most other movies would simply allude to.
Kick-Ass opens with a a scene of a guy dressed up like a superhero with these huge wings on his costume. He leaps from the top of a skyscraper and hurtles towards the ground. We’re watching expectantly to see him soar upward gracefully right before he hits the ground — except that’s not what happens. He just slams into the car. That’s the opening scene of the movie.
In comes the voice of the narrator, who’s also the main character of the movie — who we see in a moment to be a 17-year-old comic book geek named Dave Lizewsk. Dave explains how he’s just a normal guy, but that his hormones are going crazy: then we see a series of scenes with strongly implied “boys private fun time.” (Originally, I used the actual word here, but there’s no way I wanted Google to pick up on that search term!) No, there’s no nudity — but more was shown than I expected. (A view of the feet shown in close-up, pants falling to the ground around the ankles, and tissues being thrown into the trash. This happens about 3-4 times in quick succession. Can you say waaaaay too much information? The idea could have been given without nearly so much — obviousness.
There’s plenty of cursing in this film — lots of the F word, and use of insulting terms for parts of the male and female body. These are all the words that I absolutely don’t want my son exposed to–so, another strike against the movie. Maybe not a big deal for an adult — but definitely not cool for a kid. Another strike.
The Premise of Kick-Ass
Dave asks a question of his teenage friends: why don’t people become superheros and right some of the wrongs in the world? When his friends pretty much call him an idiot, he clarifies that he doesn’t think people SHOULD make themselves into superheroes — he just wonders why they don’t.
Of course, we already know that Dave loves the idea of becoming a superhero — and always has. He even orders a fancy green with yellow striped SCUBA diving suit to wear, posing in front of the mirror to see how much he looks like a superhero.
But the comic books have it wrong, Dave figures. It doesn’t take a traumatic event to make someone into a super hero — it only takes the perfect combination of optimism and naivete.
What finally pushes Dave up to the brink, and then over it, and finally ACT like a superhero instead of just dressing up like one, is when he and his friend are robbed. As the criminal take the pair for everything they’ve got — including the comic books they just purchased — Dave looks up and sees a guy watching to robbery from the safety of his top floor apartment window. The guy is-just watching, and doing nothing. Dave thinks it sucks — and he’s right. Too bad, he thinks to himself, that the bad guys aren’t make-believe, just like the superheros.
After a few days of “preparing” to be a superhero — which Dave admits is actually just fantasizing — Dave sees some guys breaking into a car. He says that then, just like for a serial killer, fantasizing just doesn’t do it for you anymore. (OK, I wasn’t crazy about his comparing thoughts of hero-dom to being a serial killer — another black mark against you, Kick-Ass, when it comes to acceptability for kids.)
So Dave puts on his scuba suit (complete with hood) and confronts the guys. It goes OK for a couple of seconds — then he gets stabbed. Then some obscure guy comes around the turn — fast — in his automobile, hits Dave hard, and drives off.
Dave is rushed to the hospital, where he has lots of metal plates in his body. These, and the fact that his nerves are partially screwed up for the foreseeable future, make him more resilient to tolerating beatings in the future, which propagates the idea that he really is some kind of superhero.
After Dave’s had time to heal up, he tries the superhero thing again — and this time, it happens differently. He gets somewhat beat up, but comes out victorious — mainly because he doesn’t feel pain the same way anymore, but partially because he’s super-stubborn and keeps fighting when most guys would have quit. (That’s his NINDO, apparently.) And this time, the fight is caught by an onlooker with his cell phone, and the video goes right to YouTube. And of course, this makes Dave — who’s now calling himself “Kick-Ass” and overnight celebrity.
Without taking you blow-by-blow through the movie, there’s a girl that Dave has a serious crush on, but she thinks he’s gay. And he lets her keep on thinking that for quite some time, just to make sure he doesn’t scare her off. Not crazy about this subject matter for kids, either, as I believe that all talks related to sex should be handled in a controlled manner, and not just everything thrown out there at once in confusing sorts of situations.
There’s also an evil sidekick, betrayal, and a man (known as Big Daddy) who is burned to death right in front of his young daughter — and in front of us. Is this strike 3, Kick-Ass? Strike 4? 5? I’m losing count.
There’s also a series of scenes (related to the betrayal I mentioned earlier) where a bunch of evil goons have Kick-Ass and Big Daddy on the Internet TV for a public lesson on the downfalls of acting like a hero. In this case, it’s going to be death by torture — and yes, the movie is going to show us all of this as it goes down. Strike 6? 7?
And not to leave this out — there’s a girl who’s 11 years old who loves knives and guns and fighting and killing — and she does quite a lot of killing, herself. She also gets beaten pretty badly during one of the major fight scenes. Do any of us want our kids seeing a little kid getting punched in the face multiple times, then left bloody on the ground? Strike 18, 19, 20 . . . and so on.
OK, so I’ve given you a good idea why Kick-Ass is absolutely inappropriate for kids under the age of 17 — maybe even older than that. But that being said, it’s got some positives when considered as purely an adult movie.
Why Adults May Like Kick-Ass
What’s different about this movie from a lot of the others out there is that it doesn’t shy away from showing this. You may like this, or you may not — but it IS different.
Also, a lot of the themes are interesting to consider — such as why don’t more people in this world make themselves into superheroes? Or at the very least, stand up for who — and what — they believe in? And I don’t mean this in the sense of going out and doing violence — just in the sense of not being scared to death to let others know how you feel about something, even if your perspective might be — oh no, dare we say it? — different from that of other people. I’ve been guilty of this same thing, on occasion, so don’t think I’m throwing stones!
Another positive to the movie is that it’s honest about a lot of things. If a kid throws herself into a fight, she’s going to get badly hurt. Just like Dave was. It’s not all amazing kids and young people dashing in and saving the day without a scratch on them….There’s a small part about this honesty that makes this a GOOD film for kids — but the gruesomeness outweighs the benefits, from my perspective.
If you’re an adult, I do recommend the movie, as it will likely give you much food for thought. It is original, and has some truly laugh-out-loud moments. Just make sure the kids are in bed (and out of hearing range) before you watch it.