"OKAY, YOU CUNTS—let's see what you can do now." That's one of the more charming lines from Kick-Ass, and it's also pretty good evidence that Kick-Ass' filmmakers selected the wrong character to be the film's protagonist. Ostensibly, Kick-Ass is about Kick-Ass, the superhero who comics-obsessed dweeb Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) decides to become. But the real star of the flick is Mindy Macready, AKA Hit-Girl (Chloe Moretz), an adorable little cupcake who slices and dices more bad guys than anyone since the Bride in Kill Bill. Sometimes she looks like she's gonna sell you Girl Scout cookies, sometimes she's calling people cunts and asking what they can do now, and usually she's going all Jackson Pollock with other people's arterial sprays. She's fantastic.
I guess before I continue waxing rhapsodic about a pint-sized killing machine, I should talk about the movie she's in—which, as it happens, is pretty solid. Based on the comic book miniseries by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr., Kick-Ass' first act follows the comic pretty closely: In a Peter Parker-esque moment of inspiration, dorky high-schooler Dave decides to order a wetsuit from eBay, fashion it into a makeshift costume, and start patrolling the streets to fight crime. Only problem? A radioactive spider hasn't bitten Dave, nor does he come from Krypton, nor does he have Bruce Wayne's military-grade body armor. ("Who the fuck you supposed to be?" one crook asks when confronted by Kick-Ass. "The Green Condom?") Roughly .03 seconds after he first gets brutally beaten and left for dead, Dave comes to the realization that this superhero stuff might not be for amateurs.
He sticks with it, though, and soon enough, Kick-Ass finds himself with celebrity status and a super-hot girlfriend. He also meets two superheroes who actually have their shit together: the Batman-esque Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and his daughter Hit-Girl, who I would like to adopt if that's at all possible. Between his MySpace-enabled acts of somewhat heroic superheroism, Kick-Ass also teams up with doofy hero Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), except Red Mist is actually a mafia guy's doofy son masquerading as a superhero to lure Kick-Ass into a trap, and....
I don't know, it kind of spirals from there. It all gets fairly ridiculous and cartoony, which is not necessarily a bad thing: Cage (who, whenever he's dressed as Big Daddy, does a fan-fucking-tastic Adam West impression) and Moretz (who will next be seen as the lead in the American remake of Let the Right One In) both steal every scene they're in, and when Vaughn decides to go nuts with Hit-Girl's bloody, exhilarating, and profane action, the relentlessly violent Kick-Ass becomes an incredible amount of fun. "Hit-Girl and Big Daddy—they were the real deal," Kick-Ass mopes in one scene, clearly aware that he's been upstaged. "Me? I was just some stupid dick in a wetsuit." Kick-Ass might be being a bit too hard on himself there, but not by much—here's hoping his movie does well enough to justify a Hit-Girl spinoff, 'cause that's the movie I really wanna see.