A foul-mouthed, crime-fighting cinematic superhero doesn't sound like anything new. But when it's an 11-year-old girl who slaughters people and uses "the c word" with reckless abandon, commentators sit up and take notice. Kick-Ass, released on Friday, is about a tween — played by 13-year-old actress Chloe Moretz — who decides to take on the larger-than-life identity of Hit-Girl and fight back against bullies and criminals. The Daily Mail calls it "one of the most deeply cynical, shamelessly irresponsible films ever." Does the reviewer have a case? (Watch the Kick-Ass trailer)
It's a child actor in an adult movie. What's the big deal? Hit-Girl's use of "the final unutterable profanity" has turned Moretz into "something of the star of the moment," says Jay Stone in the National Post. But only "mild protests" have ensued. We've come a long way since Hollywood considered child actors "more manufactured ideas than people." Hit-Girl is as far away from that "patronizing cutesy-poo" as you can get, and we're better off for it.
"Child actors: Anything but the C-word!"
The ass-kicking in Kick-Ass is the problem: It isn't the swearing that I found troubling, says Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times, but the "deadly carnage" dealt out by Hit-Girl. Call me "hopelessly square," but I found the idea of an 11-year-old girl treating "human beings like videogame targets" disturbing. They call it "comic violence," but when kids this age "are shooting one another every day in America, that kind of stops being funny."
Kids can deal with fantasy violence: Any kid who manage to sneak into this R-rated movie will be "well prepared" for it, says Harry Knowles at Ain't It Cool. Most have access to "incredibly violent" videogames, and any teacher can confirm that the average tween uses "fouler language than even Hit-Girl dishes out." This generation is desensitized to this sort of film now. It's more likely to prompt kids "to get into acting" than gun crime.
"Why my friend Roger Ebert is dead wrong about Kick-Ass"
Enough with the superhero movies already: Yes, combining "Tarantino-style splatter" with a "Y.A.-novel setting" is troubling, says Dana Stevens in Slate. But the real insult is that Kick-Ass is yet another unimaginative superhero movie. "Why has this genre taken our popular culture hostage, and what can we do to escape?"
"The dubious charms of Kick-Ass"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How a degree from Duke University dashed my dreams of buying a home
- This is why you can't trust the NSA. Ever.
- Half the world's population lives in these 6 countries
- Innocent before proven guilty? The bizarre bipartisan rush to clear Rick Perry
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- Today in history: Lincoln reveals the real goal of the Civil War
- What Keeping Up with the Kardashians can teach America about interracial marriage
- The single best way to help your kid succeed at school
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- This 1,600-year-old Viking war game is still awesome
Subscribe to the Week