A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Kick-Ass is a superhero action/comedy based on a popular comic book that kids will be eager to see. But be prepared: It features teen characters, and -- most notably -- an 11-year-old girl who dole out extreme violence (think slo-mo Matrix-style bloody gunshots to the head) and language (including "f--k" and "c--t" out of the mouth of the 11-year-old). Expect some conspicuous sex scenes between teens and references to drugs. It has some arguably good messages about taking action instead of standing by when bad stuff happens, but it also has a relentless, darkly humorous mean streak. Due to a strong marketing campaign, very positive buzz, and good early reviews, parents are going to have a tough time keeping teens away from this one.
What's the story?
Comic book nut Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) wonders why a normal person can't put on a costume and become a superhero, and he gives it a try, becoming Kick-Ass. After a terrible beating, he gets his only superpower: a skeleton laced with metal braces and damaged nerve endings that lessen the sensation of pain. Not long after his debut, more heroes appear, including Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage), the 11-year-old Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz), and Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). A dangerous gangster (Mark Strong) decides to take out the heroes, who are starting to interfere with his drug operations. Everything comes down to an insanely bullet-ridden showdown.
Is it any good?
Simply put, KICK-ASS is a lot of fun, but it's packed with edgy content. Since one of the main characters is a skilled, confident 11-year-old girl, watching her curse and kill can be quite disturbing. She's strong, but often cruel and ruthless. Given the dearth of strong female characters, especially in action movies, Hit Girl could be a chance to create a powerful girl lead, but her extremely young age mixed with the limit-pushing content instead pushes the film into exploitative territory. The movie hints that she's been forced to grow up too quickly, and in that way, she's a pathetic character. But young viewers will likely miss that point.
The extreme violence, intense language, and overt sex underlines the kind of reckless, dangerous attitude of the movie. Director Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake, Stardust) balances several characters with brisk economy and punchy scenes, not unlike comic book panels. The movie only falters during its final third, when Vaughn lets the humor drop in order to wrap up the explosive story.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the character of Hit Girl. Was the idea of a skilled, confident 11-year-old girl superhero cool, or disturbing? Or both? Why? Is she a role model, or a cautionary tale? What responsibility does the movie studio and filmmakers have to the young actress involved in an adult film like this?
What do you think about the concept of a regular person becoming a superhero? What are the dangers involved? What are the benefits? Are courage and weapons enough? What are some realistic ways kids and teens can be "superheroes"?
Can you think of any real-life examples where someone stepping in when they saw something bad happening would have made a big difference?
- In theaters: April 16, 2010
- On DVD or streaming: August 2, 2010
- Cast: Chloe Grace Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Nicolas Cage, Aaron Taylor-Johnson
- Director: Matthew Vaughn
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 117 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong brutal violence throughout, pervasive language, sexual content, nudity and some drug use - some involving children
For kids who love action
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.