In the time between now and my last post, I've seen two movies: Date Night and Kick-Ass. I was going to do separate posts for each movie, along with another post of the random thoughts I've had on the entertainment world this past week. Instead, I've decided to do one epic post, including all three elements.
I enjoyed Date Night more than I should have. The script was not a masterpiece, relying too heavily on cliches about the perils of city life to the average suburbanite. Shawn Levy, previously best known for kid-friendly fare like the Night at the Museum and Cheaper by the Dozen movies, is no action director, and puts forth a pedestrian effort here. What makes Date Night so much better than it deserves to be is its fantastic cast. Steve Carrell and Tina Fey are nothing short of hilarious from beginning to end, and have surprisingly great chemistry with each other. They're portrayals of a bored married couple are believable, though you can see traces of Michael Scott and Liz Lemon in their respective performances. The supporting cast is equally wonderful, with bit parts coming from William Fitchner, Ray Liotta, Common, Taraji P. Henson, James Franco, Mila Kunis, and, flexing both his shirtless and comedic muscles, Mark Wahlberg. Its these excellent comedic performances that elevate Date Night from being another vapid comedy into being an entertaining evening.
For your viewing pleasure.
Kick-Ass, on the other hand, has marketed itself as a kind of comedic superhero movie, and on that front it is sure to disappoint. Its not without its humor, but it employs very dark humor to serve its purpose. What Kick-Ass really is is something that we have not yet seen in theaters yet (though it stands to be a theme of this year): a deconstruction of the superhero movie. It was inevitable, of course, since every cinematic genre will eventually have a movie that deconstructs it. What makes Kick-Ass so interesting in that sense is that it doesn't make fun of its characters, but has you cheer for them despite their onscreen actions. When Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) first puts on his Kick-Ass costume and goes out to fight crime, he ends up in the hospital; yet he continues to don the costume, even though he hardly ever wins. Meanwhile, there's a wonderfully staged scene in the beginning when we meet Damon McCready (a better-than-lately Nicolas Cage), who promptly shoots his daughter, Mindy (the incredible Chloe Grace Moritz). These two are also masked vigilantes, Big Daddy and Hit-Girl, respectively, and this is part of Hit-Girl's training; the duo are planning on going after a big-time mobster who framed Damon and forced his wife to commit suicide.
"I don't have any powers, but I can kick your ass."
What makes this scene so incredible is that its the perfect encapsulation of what the film is trying to say, which is: these people are practically insane. Its an exaggeration of the sanity of superheroes, particularly Batman (whom Big Daddy's costume resembles). Think about it: what sane person would put on a costume and go out and fight crime? In our reality, we would classify people like this as needing serious mental help, and Kick-Ass asks us one simple question: why are cinematic superheroes an exception? It's a clever premise, and from the creation of a self-made super-villain (Red Mist, as played by an against-type Christopher Mintz-Plasse) to the hero-gets-the-girl model. Perhaps cleverest of all is the fact that out of all of them, the most heroic and certainly super of them all is Hit-Girl, a foul-mouthed, ultra-violent 11 year old girl that prefers folding knives to dolls and puppies. Moritz's portrayal of Hit-Girl (a breakout, I should note, and the highlight of the film) has drawn some ire from audiences about whether that is an acceptable role for a minor. For more on that, I recommend this excellent article from MCN's Kim Voynar.
Hit-Girl takes out the bad guys before snack time.
In other news:
- In 2007, I accomplished a feat that I have never copied: I saw every movie on my "10 Most Anticipated List" of that year during that year. 2008 was ruined by the moves of Star Trek and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince to 2009; 2009 was ruined by the fact that The Road didn't come to theaters in my area until January 2010. And only a third of the way through this year, 2010 has been ruined by the move of The Green Hornet to January 2011 in order to convert it into 3D. Curse you, 3D craze! M. Night Shymalan's The Last Airbender will also get the 3D treatment, but I'm not nearly as interested in that, since Shymalan, to me at least, is still a good director but has not lived up to the visionary status he exhibited in The Sixth Sense. I hardly expect this movie to change that.
- This week's episode of Glee should have been hokey and clichéd, but instead it was everything that I love about the show. It's a miracle that Glee has managed to keep up this kind of mix of great musical productions and quality storytelling, and I pray that its able to keep it up for the long run. And by the way: download the Glee Cast cover of "Like a Prayer." It not only rivals Glee's other top number, "Don't Stop Believing," but it also rivals Madonna's original.
- I'm going to do a separate post about Lost, because it deserves it.
- The Modern Family cast is submitting themselves completely in the supporting categories, which is further evidence for my call that both the Emmys and the Oscars need to have Best Cast categories like the SAGs. Let's face it, they all deserve Emmys.
- Speaking of awards, the Tony nominees are announced May 4. Not living in New York nor having a lot of money to blow on expensive Broadway shows, I usually am clueless in the quality of the nominees, mostly relying on what I've seen on Youtube or heard from soundtracks. Nonetheless, I have high hopes for American Idiot, if for nothing else the cast version of "21 Guns" is wonderful.
- I wonder if Friday the 13th: Part 2, the possibly-dead sequel to last year's remake, would be a remake of the original sequel to the original (that phrase makes me want to cry). And speaking of such things, has anyone else noticed that horror has shifted gears again, moving away from J-horror and torture porn and moving into remakes of slasher "classics?"
- If the rest of Drake's upcoming debut album is anything like "Over," then I'm sold.
- I got to re-watch Antichrist for my film class last night. It still deeply disturbs me, but oddly wasn't as horrifying as I remembered it to be. Except for the last half hour. That is most definitely still horrifying.
As always, comments are welcome.