April 16, 2010, - 5:34 pm

UPDATED – Weekend Box Office: “Kick-Ass,” “Death @ Funeral,” “City Island,” “The Joneses”

By Debbie Schlussel

**** UPDATED, with review of “The Joneses” ****

There isn’t anything that great at the movies, this weekend.

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*  “Kick-Ass“:  I had mixed feelings about this movie.  While I liked the idea– an average nerdy teenager (the charming Aaron Johnson) with no special powers putting on a costume and trying to be a superhero who stops crimes–it was horribly disturbing, violent, and graphic, not to mention very vulgar with themes like masturbation, etc.  And then, there’s the issue of an 11-year-old girl killing and slaughtering oodles of people . . . even if they’re the bad guys (which does make it somewhat more tolerable).  It has a hard “R” rating, but in my mind it really deserved an “NC-17″ (if they’re still using that). If you let your kids see this, you’re a moron.

Despite all that, I liked the moral black-and-white here.  The good guys are (mostly) the good guys and the bad guys are clearly evil (mobsters).  Still,  it’s based on a graphic novel, where that isn’t the case.  And, so, it’s dishonest in that it “cleans” it up.  For example, in the movie, an honest cop (Nicolas Cage) is sent to prison for years after being framed by a mobster, his wife dies in childbirth, and he fights back against the mobster.  In the novel, he’s just a crazy accountant, with no legitimate reason for killing, and he gives his 11-year-old daughter cocaine pills.

Johnson is the teen wannabe superhero.  He’s a comic book fan and geek who has a crush on a girl at his high school.  He wonders what it would be like to be a superhero, so he orders the costume and begins trying to fight crime, calling himself “Kick-Ass.”  At first, he gets severely beaten and stabbed by criminals and is sent to the hospital.  Later, though, he takes hits but stops a man from being beaten to death, people take video of it on their cellphones, and Kick-Ass becomes a YouTube star and a hero on TV news.

But again, without powers he’s not a true superhero, and eventually, he screws it up, in danger of being killed by the criminals he tries to foil.  But he’s rescued by a father and daughter superhero team (Cage and Chloe Moretz), who actually know what they are doing.  They slaughter and kill a lot of criminals.  It’s disturbing to see an eleven-year-old girl slice limbs and heads off of people with resulting torrents of blood, even if they’re the bad guys (and to watch her spew filthy vocabulary).  (You gotta wonder about the kind of parents who would allow their eleven-year-old to play this part. Warped, whorish people.) The father and daughter have an ultimate goal:  they want to murder the mobster who put him in prison and caused his wife to die.

Eventually, another kid (Christopher Mintz-Plasse a/k/a “McLovin” from “Superbad”), the nerdy, lonely son of the mobster, wants to be a superhero, too.  He becomes friends with Kick-Ass.  But is that a good idea?

HALF A REAGAN (Because of violence and graphic depictions, language)
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Watch the (Mostly Misleading) G-rated trailer:

*  “Death at a Funeral“:  This is an almost exact remake of a horrible 2007  English movie, which I feel like I just saw.  You can read my review of the 2007 version, because it’s pretty much the same.  The only difference is that instead of English actors, we have Black comedians, like Chris Rock and Tracy Morgan, in this one.  Big whoop.  One actor, Peter Dinklage, plays the same character in both. It’s the story of a funeral for the deceased Black father, and all of the mishaps and “madcap” occurrences that happen in the family during and surrounding the funeral.

And it was just as bad as the original.  This was a tad funnier than the original, but just as lame, disgusting, and stupid.  Sorry, but adding a little soul food to a really bad movie doesn’t make it taste any less putrid.  Shame on director Neil LaBute for lowering his usually much higher standards.  This was beneath him.  Yuck.

THREE-AND-A-HALF MARXES
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Watch the trailer . . .

*  “City Island“:  This is Andy Garcia’s latest movie.  It’s a comedy about a Bronx, New York prison guard and his sterotypically emotional Italian-American family.  He lies to his wife, pretending he’s at poker games, when he’s really at acting classes.  He also discovers his long lost son among the prison inmates and he comes to live with Garcia’s family.  Meanwhile a series of other mishaps and misadventures happen, some of which are a little too ’80s sitcom-ish for me.  He has a daughter who is secretly a stripper because she lost her college scholarship and a teen son with a fetish for fat chicks.

While parts of this movie were very funny, there was far too much yelling, screaming, and overwrought drama at times.  Still, one particular scene–in which Garcia, as the Brooklyn prison guard, is auditioning for a Martin Scorsese movie–is funny and terrific to watch. And Garcia is great in this movie, which makes it worth watching.

Not the greatest movie ever, but not bad.  Entertaining enough.

ONE-AND-A-HALF REAGANS
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Watch the trailer . . .

* “The Joneses“: This is a pretty clever movie, even if it has an obvious anti-capitalist bent. For those who don’t think Islamic terrorist cells can invade neighborhoods and influence people to bend to Islam, this movie has an important lesson. It can be done, just as this movie does it with capitalist cells.

A family of good-looking people (Demi Moore, David Duchovny) comes to their new home in a wealthy suburb and moves into a beautiful mcMansion. But appearances are deceiving. They are change agents. Can’t say more, or I’d ruin the movie. But note the movie’s tagline: they’re not just living the beautiful life, they’re selling it. It’s an interesting idea and something new.

Like I said, I didn’t like its anti-capitalist bent. People are free to buy and not buy what they wish. No company forces us to buy their products or puts a gun to our heads. This movie ignored the internal locus of control a/k/a personal responsibility. Could have done without some of the overwrought drama, too.

Still the movie was interesting, entertaining, and different from anything I’ve ever seen. It’s all about keeping up with the Joneses . . . literally.

ONE-AND-A-HALF REAGANS
reagancowboy.jpghalfreagan

Watch the trailer . . .

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12 Responses

Debbie, your review of Kick-Ass was right on target. Like you, I had mixed feelings, because on the one hand, it was disturbingly explicit, violent and lewd (disturbing, that is, considering it was made with kids and for kids). On the other hand, there was an appealing moral tone where the good guys were people you could root for, the bad guys people you didn’t like. This is Batman for male teens, but teens probably shouldn’t be seeing this kind of movie. The daughter in the story (Moretz) has “future star” written all over her, and her relationship with her dad (Nicolas Cage) was cute and funny, I thought.

I also saw Death at a Funeral, and this one I liked more than you did. It was sometimes broad as suggested by the trailers, but sometimes dry, too, which I liked. It reminded me of Tyler Perry’s recent Why Did I Get Married Too?– a comic look at affluent blacks and various tangled relationships with those closest to them. Like you, also, I’m a big fan of Neil LaBute who directed, especially liking his early films which really are stories about the savage war between the sexes; this was not that, no, but I was pretty well entertained.

Burke on April 16, 2010 at 8:55 pm

I agree that kick-ass isn’t a good movie, but your reasons for disliking it are ridiculous. God f***ing forbid that a child swears. Also, the way you rate is hilarious.

Mr. Namefag on April 16, 2010 at 10:44 pm

Why did they pick Garcia to play an Italo-American? What, there’s a dearth of Italian-American actors in Hollywood? They couldn’t find anyone except a Hispanic actor to portray and Italian?

This is just as offensive to me, a first-generation Italian-American, as it would be if they put a Caucasian actor in blackface to play an African-American or put extended mascara and fake buck teeth on one to play an Asian.

DS_Rocks! on April 17, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    You are being so PC

    Ken Blazek on April 18, 2010 at 8:32 am

I thought Death at a Funeral was hilarious, well worth watching. A lot of great characters! Lots of twists and turns. Great for a Saturday afternoon . . .

Deborah on April 17, 2010 at 8:35 pm

Debbie,
everyone here is insane! Kickass is the best movie (even though it has some unusual twists) I have seen this year. It was refreshing not to have to watch some kid that’s depressed, angst ridden, or homosexual for a change. Hit girl is my new hero. She did not plod through the movie questioning the morality or purpose of her mission, instead, she kicked some ass for a change. I hope they do a sequel with just her, and dump all the other lame characters.

Ps. I just went out and bought my son a pair of butterfly knives just like hers. I just hope he finds such a fruitful way to use them.

Brad on April 18, 2010 at 10:38 am

Kick-Ass, no doubt, is part of Nicolas Cage’s “I’m grabbing whatever movie I can because I’m broke” tour.

If a movie has Chris Rock in it, I’m passing. If he’s funny, I’m Sean Penn.

Richard on April 18, 2010 at 5:13 pm

“Why did they pick Garcia to play an Italo-American? What, there’s a dearth of Italian-American actors in Hollywood? They couldn’t find anyone except a Hispanic actor to portray and Italian?”

What’s wrong with that?
Andy Garcia is a cuban of spanish descent,spanish and italians are the same physically.

Iceberg on April 19, 2010 at 7:59 am

@Brad – Right on. It was nice to see some moral clarity instead of the usual liberal hand wringing and guilt ridden angsty fence sitting.

Near the end of the movie, Hit Girl says to Kick Ass — I was going to quote something, but I realize it’s a spoiler. Suffice it to say, she clearly articulates her mission statement and carries it out.

Debbie, I agree it was violent, and I even averted my eyes for two particular scenes, as it was obvious what was going to happen. But I loved the “take no prisoners” attitude.

verbatim on April 20, 2010 at 9:12 am

I love this movie, City Island, one correction Debbie, he’s a prison guard of a Westchester Prison, not Brooklyn, City Island was once property of Westchester County, Pelham, as a matter of fact, just north of the Bronx which eventually was ceded to New York City. I love that island as well, I live exactly 5.8 miles from City Island and ride my bicycle there almost daily, it’s such a great place to relax, except on Sundays when it seems like the entire world starts to come in. City Island is renown for it’s seafood and has the most seafood restaurants crammed into one square mile in my estimation.

Mark Hammond on May 11, 2011 at 10:36 am

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