Despite — or maybe because of — the almighty publicity blitz that has accompanied the movie since December, Kick-Ass has been garnering surprisingly good reviews, with a 76% “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 67% score on Metacritic: Not stratospheric numbers, mind you, but a surprise to some who had been following Kick-Ass‘ progression.
But one influential reviewer is dragging down those numbers, and the film’s backers have to be taking notice: Roger Ebert. Ebert himself acknowledges that he tends to give higher-star reviews than most critics — or even himself in his “first 10 or 15 years on the job” — which makes his 1-star takedown of Kick-Ass, which he calls “morally reprehensible,” all the more devastating.
A movie camera makes a record of whatever is placed in front of it, and in this case, it shows deadly carnage dished out by an 11-year-old girl, after which an adult man brutally hammers her to within an inch of her life. Blood everywhere. Now tell me all about the context.
I know, I know. This is a satire. But a satire of what? The movie’s rated R, which means in this case that it’s doubly attractive to anyone under 17. I’m not too worried about 16-year-olds here. I’m thinking of 6-year-olds.
Now: Any parent who takes their six-year-old to see Kick-Ass is the morally reprehensible one: In its very name, the movie announces that it is probably not child-friendly. (Although on a personal note, when I saw Inglourious Basterds in theaters, one mother inexplicably brought her toddler, who explicably started bawling not far into the movie. I think they left before Brad Pitt carved a swastika into a Nazi’s skull.)
But there’s something touching about Ebert’s willingness to seem old-fashioned by daring to give the movie a morally based review. His review largely focuses on the presence of the 11-year-old Hit Girl in the movie, and he comes across as genuinely saddened and disturbed throughout. Bleeding Cool’s Rich Johnston disputes Ebert’s take and says that he’s missing the satire of our culture’s hyperviolence. But then, Kick-Ass creator Mark Millar somehow referred to the movie as a work of realism, and his often ham-handed takes on “issues” make the question of whether he can handle satire a legitimate one.
We haven’t seen the movie yet, so we can’t definitively say we’re on Team Ebert on this one, but kudos to him for not narrowly focusing on the action and the stars and the faithfulness to the source material and having the guts to write a review that asks if a movie’s existence is really a good thing.