Kick-Ass has been hailed as an instant classic, and it's not difficult to agree. It has the potential to join the likes of South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut and Back to the Future as a film to stick on once or twice a year on a lazy weekend afternoon. It's funny, shocking (in a gasp-inducing, not disturbing way), and consistently entertaining. It's visually stunning, particularly when providing the backstory in still cartoons, the point-of-view sweeping around beautifully inside some of the frames. The soundtrack, too, is punchy, upbeat, and at times joyous: a scene in which Sparks' 'This town ain't big enough for the both of us' plays out stands out in particular. I find it difficult to imagine how anyone could dislike Kick-Ass.
And yet this proves only my lack of imagination. Josh Tyler on Cinemablend, for example, is disturbed by the violence both wreaked and received by Hit Girl - particularly the latter - saying that Kick-Ass:
presents it as light entertainment and then seems to sneer at anyone who might think otherwise. Kick-Ass revels in it. Kick-Ass fucking enjoys it. Kick-Ass seems to want you to enjoy it and call me old fashioned, but I find that kind of depraved and sick.I can see his point, but I don't agree. For one thing, we identify with Hit Girl, not the character carrying out the beating. The effect of that scene is to remove any sympathy the audience might have had for the mobster, not to glamourise child abuse. Indeed, this is the point the BBFC make in their explanation for granting Kick-Ass a 15 certificate:
...those doing the beatings have been clearly established as evil characters and the audience is encouraged to feel sympathy for the victims rather than revel in the violence being inflicted. At the same time, the audience knows that the highly skilled good guys are likely to regain the upper hand very swiftly.Kick-Ass features both more-or-less realistic violence - the sort that is quick, brutal and instantly renders the victim incapable of anything more than collapsing or dying - and comic-book sequences in which our heroes run up walls, take out numerous individuals at once whilst dodging a hail of bullets, and utilise frankly unlikely technology. Some might see that as an incongruous mix, but I thought it worked perfectly in the film. It's not as though the audience is unable to suspend disbelief just because it has an initially realist tone. Likewise, the critics who frown upon the film for being lightweight are missing the point. Kick-Ass is a lightweight and exhilarating comic extravaganza.