Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week.

KICK-ASS 2 (2013)
I liked the first Kick-Ass quite a bit. Though it wasn't the interesting deconstruction of superheroes it pretended to be, it was kind of witty and stupid-fun and the stuff it played for shock value actually worked. It wasn't good, exactly, but it wasn't a waste by any means. This grim sequel is far easier to despise. It loses the wit and shock value of the original, and instead contains numbing, ugly violence in the extreme. It plays a rape scene for laughs (and actually suggests that being unable to get the erection to rape a woman is unmanly) and tries awkwardly to balance death scenes we're supposed to be shocked and affected by with death scenes played for bizarre humor. This is the kind of film that uses the death and rape of others to motivate its heroes to be more violent, a bizarre set of tropes that comic book writer Mark Millar just can't outgrow. And it's all in the service of nothing, really. It's just another Millar project that exists to pretend its empowering the comic book fans that it takes twisted pleasure in insulting.

Other than the performances of Jim Carrey and John Leguizamo--which really amount to extended cameos--the only other thing in the movie of any value is Chloe Moretz. She has a storyline where she tries to go to school and be a "normal" kid and give up her Hit Girl persona, and that was the only part that really pulled me in, except that gets pretty ugly and graphic, too. There's a bit where she goes out with the school's football star but, at the behest of the mean girls, he ditches her out in the woods to teach her, I guess, not to be so good at dance squad. Given the tone of the rest of the film, I'm surprised (but relieved!) they didn't have the football team gang rape her instead. It's humiliating, but mild compared to the rest of the film. And then, of course, her retribution is extreme: she hits the mean girls with a weapon that makes them vomit and shit themselves at the same time. It's another bit that's supposed to be funny but is actually just cruel and awful. It's that kind of movie.

But here's the thing with Hit Girl that bothered me, and this is actually what offended me most in this terrible, tone deaf movie. She's played as, basically, an abuse victim. Intentionally or no, the movie is drawing the parallel of what happened to Hit Girl to girls that are abused by their own family members. Morris Chestnut, playing the family friend raising her after her father's death in the first movie, keeps saying things like "Your father stole your childhood," and it's uncomfortable and kind of gross. And the way her story plays out, it's like the film is telling every abused person out there that they can never fit in, never mainstream themselves. You'll always be different, the film seems to be saying. You can never be "normal" again because someone made you something else, but if you just give in to it and be the thing you were turned into, that abusive experience is ultimately empowering. That's the sick message they're sending with her: embrace your abuse, because you'll never be happy any other way.

Thankfully, the only thing anyone's going to remember this mirthless, witless, misogynistic film for is the controversy of Jim Carrey refusing to do any press for it after the Sandy Hook massacre. He made the right choice. No one in their right mind should have supported this. *

1 comment:

Roger Owen Green said...

I'm going to have to watch World's Greatest Dad with Robin Williams after re-reading your review.