Category Archives: Satire

Review and Rant of Kick-Ass (2010)

With no power, comes no responsibility. Except, *that* wasn’t true.

— Dave Lizewski

I saw some Comic-Con footage of the #146 movie of all time, Kick-Ass when it was leaked online before it was taken down. I saw footage of Hit Girl in action, the opening sequence of the film and I believe it was Kick-Ass’s first fight with the thugs. I was pumped to see this movie. I have been eagerly anticipating this movie when it was picked up by Lionsgate. I wanted to see it before it left theaters. I’m glad I did because I had a ball with this movie.

Based on Mark Millar & John S. Romita Jr.’s graphic novel, Kick-Ass is the ultimate examination in fanboy delusion. High schooler Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) could be the typical comic book teenager. He is a total outcast that likes hanging out at Atomic Comics with his friends Marty (Clark Duke) and Todd (Evan Peters). He is vagina repellent to all girls, especially to his crush, Katie (Lyndsy Fonseca).

He ponders the question to his friends, why can’t someone become a superhero when the guys are constantly mugged a couple of thugs. Marty bluntly says that they would fucking die within a day. Dave ignores the warning of his friends and decides to become a superhero even though he has no powers whatsoever. He orders green and yellow wet suit online and decides to be a costume vigilante. He tries to train his body to be “super strong.”

The problem is not that much crime happens until he walks into a mugging outside of restaurant. He is taped by a stranger on their cellphone the remarkably clear footage is posted on YouTube. The local news pick up the story about this costumed hero. They want to know who is Kick-Ass.

Kick-Ass decides to create a MySpace account so random strangers could post messages praising him and asking him for help. Dave is enjoying the instant fame Kick-Ass is generating for him and he has to keep his secret identity. The coverage of this amateur attracts the attention of two other costume vigilantes that are in hiding, Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and Hit-Girl (Chloe Moertz). Their paths cross when a local drug dealer, Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong) thinks that Kick-Ass is killing his business. He wants to kill Kick-Ass.

This movie went farther than Watchmen in my opinion. It tried to poke fun at the superhero origin story but still doesn’t go off the deep end. It was bloody, vulgar and fucking awesome. The action sequences especially with Hit-Girl were awesome.

The ultimate message of the movie is that we are desensitized to extreme violence. We don’t know that the world is not a safe place. It also showed us that bringing your fantasies like becoming a superhero into the real world is dangerous and could potentially get your killed if you try to do it. When I was younger, I wanted to be a Power Ranger. I thought it was refreshing that a movie would give this generation a much needed wake up call it deserves. Just because you want that instant fame either from being a runaway hit on YouTube or being profile in your local news, you have to know that there is a dark side to instant fame. It’s not just the notoriety you will get. There will be people that want the same thing as you and would harm you to replace your name in the papers.

I’m not saying that this movie was perfect. Far from it. Not having read the graphic novel, I heard that the ending of the movie changed. I like some of the changes, but not all of them. I thought that the movie was poking fun at Spider-Man, Superman and Batman at the beginning of the movie. Towards the ends, however, the movie becomes a conventional superhero storyline with the hero in trouble, the damsel in distress watching idly by, and the over the top climatic action sequence to close out the film. I think the relationship between Dave and Katie felt forced and uninspired or the last scene with Big Daddy and Hit-Girl went into melodrama. It was a bit of a cop out.

Before I close out this review, I have something to say is that I don’t understand why Hit Girl is the make or break factor of this movie. Have the naysayers ever heard of a pre-pubescent girl cursing like a sailor? Oh, please. Get over yourselves. I cursed a blue streak when I was that age. What about the boy from Role Models? He was so obsessed with tits and talking about sex. Where people saying that it was a horrible movie, because they got this kid to say such filthy phrases? Did anybody say boo when Stand by Me came out? They were cussing and smoothing when their balls haven’t dropped. That was in 1986. What has changed? Just because a little girl is saying these words you would write off a movie.

I would understand if you don’t like this movie, because it subverts the typical superhero tropes of the outcast granted special abilities to fight crime and defeat the bad guy at the end. I understand. You cannot dismiss an entire movie, because you don’t like one character in it. There are a lot of movies where I hated a particular character but I still enjoyed the movie such as the little sister in (500) Days of Summer. I think it is very myopic for any critic to write off a movie because of one character that don’t like. What about the other characters of the film, the story, the pacing, the direction it is going? Does that factor in at all when you are giving your final verdict?

Maybe it’s because you have been watching movies for so long that you have become jaded about the message of the movie. I’m not trying to sound like a fanboy here, but you have to have an objective eye. You are giving your opinion on a movie that other people are going to read and form their opinion about whether to see it or not. If you write a movie off because one character then people are not going trust your opinion anymore. That is my take on this so called controversy.

Judgment: It is a subversive take on the superhero story tat people could enjoy if they open their minds to it.

Rating: ****

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In the Loop (2009)

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“Climbing the mountain of conflict”? You sounded like a Nazi Julie Andrews!

— Malcolm Tucker

In the Loop has been critically praised for being on the nose satire/situational comedy about the third and fourth tier players in US/British politics. This was based on the British series, The Thick of It. It has a Metacritic score of 83. As many of you know that British humor is either, hit or miss with me. This movie was a solid piece of filmmaking.

The action starts when a mousy British Secretary of State for International Development, Simon Tucker (Tom Hollander) misspoke over the radio about his position for a war that the US and England wants to happen. The foul-mouthed communications chief Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi) chastises him for his comments. He tries to remedy the situation by shuffling him off to D.C. with Toby (Chris Addison), a new flustered aide to be his liaison.

While in D.C., the scandal over Simon’s comments continues to snowball. The duo learn about “The Future Planning Committee” aka “The War Committee” that is headed by Linton Barwick (David Rasche) and Linda Clark (Mimi Kennedy).

Linda’s aides Liza (Anna Chlumsky) and Chad (Zach Woods) bicker at each other when another leak happens when a report of Liza’s report about the possible war is made public. Leaks happen more often then a broken faucet.

Everybody runs around with chickens with their heads cut off. These people are essentially buffoons. They have no idea how to do their jobs. It boggles the mind that they still have jobs to go to everyday.

The biting humor hooked me in. Malcolm Tucker is one of those characters that is abrasive, but you can’t help but love them at the same time. The pop culture references would probably date this movie in 2009.

Judgment: I don’t have anything witty to say. Watch this movie.

Rating: ****

The Notorious Newman Brothers (2009)

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The film the mafia wish never got made.

Yesterday, I received a screener in the mail from one of the makers of this film, The Notorious Newman Brothers, Brett Butler. It has been traveling around the festival circuit for a couple of months. This is the festival edition of the movie. This movie was pitched to me as This Is Spinal Tap meets The Sopranos. I can see that in this picture.

An inexperienced director named Max Chaplin (Ryan Noel) wants to make a documentary about the mafia. He seeks out anybody that responds to his ad to be a part of the movie. The well known mafiosos doesn’t want to be a part of the movie. They urge Max to not pursue it further. Until he recived a response to his ad.

The Newman brothers, Thunderclap and Paulie, played by real life brothers Brett and Jason Butler are lower end of the totem pole in the mafia. They are petty criminals that wanted to get their names out there and have more clout with the other members of the mob.

Max realizes that he is getting himself in too deep with him and his crew document the brothers crimes in progress. Apprehensive at first, Max was getting a rush from doing bad things.

To put a wrench in the middle of filming is a former associate of the Newman Brothers, Lucky (Mike Mackenzie). He tells Max that the brothers are not what they appears to be. Max questions the credibility of his subjects.

This movie was amusing. Better than most of the comedies that I have seen this year. I was grinning throughout the movie. The brothers were hilarious. This movie felt like it was improvised, which is a good thing.

I did have problems with Max. I know that he is supposed to be the self-indulgent annoying documentaerian like Michael Moore, but at times he was too much for me to take. I wanted to mute . It was the voice that got under my sking.

Lastly, the ending was a bit of a WTF moment. I cannot disclose it, but it was like a slap in the face to me.

Rating: ***1/2

Hot Fuzz (2007)

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Sergeant Butterman, the little hand says it’s time to rock and roll!

— Nicholas Angel

Hot Fuzz is my first foray into the Simon Pegg/Nick Frost/Edgar Wright type of movie. I remembered seeing the end of this movie and loving the over the top violence. Watching the whole movie, however, I’d rather watch the ending on its own.

The story centers on type “A”, overachieving London police officer, Nicholas Angel (Pegg) who is forcibly transferred to a village named Sandford, when he is promoted Sargent. His impeccable record of accomplishment made the other officers look bad.

His new department colleagues do not share the same intensity of job as he does. He is partnered with an inept stooge, Danny (Frost) that wants to take his job seriously, but is too lazy to do so.

Nicholas tries to apply the same tactics on the townspeople as if he did in London, but the police are blazé about the potential crimes have been committed. Nicholas becomes increasingly agitated with everyone that he comes to contact. Over time, he begins to learn that not be a stickler for the law all the time and enjoy himself in the company of other people.

I thought this movie was supposed to be satire of all those cops over the past twenty. There is a moment in this movie where the action a turn into WTF territory. It completely lost me with the ludicrous plot dealing with a cloaked serial killer that stalks the town. Nicholas wants to find who did it before another person is murdered.

The quick cuts wore down on your eyesight. The jokes were done before. The tone of the movie was supposedly “comedic” one minute and slasher movie the next. There is nothing new, nothing fresh in the film to enjoy it on a visceral level.

Judgment: Just watch the kick ass ending. There’s nothing else to see here.

Rating: **

What Just Happened (2008)

In Hollywood, everyone can hear you scream.

Based on his book of the same name, famous Hollywood producer, Art Linson brings the fictionalized version of what happened to him in Tinseltown to the big screen. What Just Happened recounts two weeks in the life of Ben (Robert De Niro), a frazzled producer dealing with multiple crises at once.

One crisis deals with a renegade British director, Jeremy Burnell (Michael Wincott) unwilling to change a controversial ending tohis movie, “Firecely.” Will he change the ending to please studio boss, Lou (Catherine Kenner) so it could be shown in Cannes? Should he maintain his integrity and cost the studio $25 million in loss profits?

There is a crisis with Bruce Willis playing a version of himself refusing to shave off his beard before the start of a new picture that Ben wants to start production. His producer life hangs in the balance to the direction Bruce has to make. Will the production shut down, because of facial hair? He tries to get Willis’ agent, Dick Bell (John Turturro) to change his mind.

Lastly, there is a crisis on the personal front with his relationship with his ex-wife Kelly (Robin Wright Penn). Is she having an affair with a struggling writer, Scott Solomon (Stanley Tucci)? What is the nature of the relationship between his teenaged daughter, Zoe (Kirstin Stewart) and a dead agent, Jack McDonaugh? Will he find some stability in his life?

This Barry Levinson directed movie gaves a satricial jab to the Hollywood types. The movie is witty. Good dialogue. The pacing is frantic and choatic when Ben is in the car going from appoitment to appoinemnt. It slows down on some of the tender scenes of the film.

The best part of the movie is at the burial of Jack McDoanugh. I won’t spoil it. Let’s just say, Ben, Bruce, Dick and a shovel.

My judgment: If you want to be a producer in Hollywood, this movie would steer you from attempting such a feat.

My rating: ***1/2

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