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KICK-ASS

Studio: Lionsgate

Rated: R for strong brutal violence throughout, pervasive language, sexual content, nudity and some drug use — some involving children

Starring: Aaron Johnson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Mark Strong, Chloe Moretz and Nicolas Cage

Directed by: Matthew Vaughn

What it’s about: Based on the kick-ass comic series, the film tells the story of a high school nerd who decides to order a masked costume so he can start wandering the streets and fighting crime. Along with other costumed vigilantes Big Daddy and Hit Girl, Kick-Ass sets his sights on taking down a local drug lord. Blood, bullets and mayhem galore!

What I liked: Am I going to sound like a too-hip fanboy if I say that I really enjoyed Kick-Ass? Perhaps, but image be damned. This film is a hell of a lot of fun, not just for its irreverent humor and introspective look at the superhero structure but also for the… well, kick ass action sequences.

A lot of hubbub has been made about the graphic violence, especially at the hands of 11-year-old Hit Girl, but that’s part of the fun. It’s an R-rated movie, after all, and it’s not meant for little kids. Like horror movies and gritty cop dramas, let us grown-ups have our fun and stop wagging your finger at movies for society’s ills. (You hear me, Roger Ebert!)

Beyond just the simple story of a kid who wants to be a costumed hero, Kick-Ass has a fantastic look, using saturated colors to make the images pop and give the film a real graphic novel look to it. And the acting is pretty awesome, starting with Chloe Moretz as Hit Girl and bringing it all the way up to Nicolas Cage as Big Daddy.

Do yourself a favor and enjoy this movie over the weekend. It’s a frakking blast.

What I didn’t: There was really only one part of Kick-Ass that I found gratuitous, and it had nothing to do with violence. There’s this relatively random and masturbatory love story crammed into the film, and it just seems out of place. I get what’s being done, that we’re getting the Cliff Notes version of every nerdy secret identity’s crush – from Clark Kent to Peter Parker – distilled into one movie. But while many fanboys will love these moments, I found them annoying. But that’s just me.

Who is gonna like this movie: Fanboys, especially those who want to put on an outfit and kick crime’s ass.

Grade: A-

DEATH AT A FUNERAL

Studio: Screen Gems

Rated: R for language, drug content and some sexual humor

Starring: Loretta Devine, Chris Rock, Danny Glover, Regina Hall and Martin Lawrence

Directed by: Neil LaBute

What it’s about: The patriarch of a family has died, and they’re having the funeral at his house. The family gets together, and shenanigans occur with this bizarre and dysfunctional family.

What I liked: Like most people out there, I was completely confused at the decision to remake this movie. Sure, it’s a foreign film, but it wasn’t exactly a foreign-language film. The 2007 Death at a Funeral got a U.S. release, and it translated well to the American culture.

But as much as I an cynical about remakes – especially those that seem pretty unnecessary – I have to say that I found this movie to be quite enjoyable. There’s an energy that it has that clicks with an audience. The outrageous scenes, which start small and build to the end, are laugh-out-loud funny, no matter how crude they may be.

The cast really sells the project. Sure, Chris Rock and Martin Lawrence are pretty funny, but notorious unfunnymen like Tracy Morgan even seems at home at this funeral. But beyond the sizable cast of family members, it’s James Marsden who steals the show as the Alan Tudyk character from the first film. He’s brilliant with his physical comedy and adds some extra hilarious elements to what Tudyk gave us in the 2007 original.

Still, I can’t praise anyone in the cast as much as I can Peter Dinklage, who reprises his role as the “guy who could fit in your pocket” lover of the dead patriarch. I have been singing praises for Dinklage as an actor for years, and he throws down and holds his own against the other well-versed comedians in this film.

Fans of the 2007 original may or may not like this slightly updated version, but for a new American audience, this movie is a lot of fun.

What I didn’t: I’ll be honest, as I reflect on this film, I know there are flaws and humor that isn’t exactly high-brow, but for the most part the movie worked for me. Still, I continue to have a problem remaking a movie from only three years ago. While I enjoyed Death at a Funeral in both its incarnations, I seriously hope this doesn’t become a trend.

Who is gonna like this movie: Fans of the cast… which is a lot of people.

Grade: A-

Want to see what Kevin had to say about these films on TV? Check out his interview on FOX…


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