Critics (more than audiences) this weekend were enthusiastic about Matthew Vaughn's superhero-wannabe flick, Kick-Ass. The online faction revved up the hype with words from CHUD's Devin Faraci like "Hitgirl is going to be a f*cking phenomenon" and AICN's Steve Prokopy calling it "a glorious punch to the nards." Lionsgate left their early support group behind though in the ads to trot out the usual suspects like Peter Travers ("a roaring blast of energy! It dares you to dive into its anarchy!") and Jeffrey Lyons ("Never a dull moment! The action sequences are beyond belief!") I suppose to show that the old fuddy-duddys can be hip too. Even Pete Hammond was seen in the commercials as saying "Move over Iron Man." Um, move over where?
My thoughts on Kick-Ass as a wildly flawed film notwithstanding ... are fans of the film already willing to throw away Jon Favreau's take on Tony Stark? On the eve of a sequel no less? Or is Pete Hammond as Ricky Gervais might say "talking sh*t" again? We're less than two years removed from the $300 million-plus smash that may just have spawned a second chapter ready to top the box office for 2010. And you want him to move over, Pete? Move over how? Precisely what is the context of that statement? Are you suggesting that Kick-Ass is going to challenge Iron Man's box office grosses? Do you want the film's most underwhelming (albeit titular) character to take on the war in the Middle East? Or is it the implication that you believe Kick-Ass to be a better film than Iron Man? There may be some in-the-moment love for Dave Lizewski, but I would be seriously surprised if the comic book fans alone would go on the record against Stark industries.
Warned as I am not to take things out of context, let us go straight to Hammond's review to find out the answer. "This action-filled and very funny flick should clean up at the box office with its target young male audience, and maybe beyond," Hammond says. Hindsight being 20-20 and all, Kick-Ass' opening week is unlikely to outgross Iron Man's opening day. Beware any critic predicting box office success in their review, even if they do write for Variety or Box Office Magazine. Double that caution on any critic using dollars to dictate quality or as a defense that attendees agree and approve of their opinion. Hammond was not referencing Iron Man there though. Scroll down to the bottom of the review.
"Kick-Ass has it all, the triumphant comic book movie fans have been waiting for with non-stop excitement, laughs, heart, originality and total entertainment. Move over Iron Man. There's a new superhero in town and his name is Kick-Ass."
There it is in black-and-white. "Move over Iron Man." Maybe its just a casual throwaway as in Tony Stark is not the only badass in town anymore. Why not Bruce Wayne though? Doesn't the Batman mystique offer a more clear parallel to the average citizen taking out the trash without the benefit of superpowers or a seriously cool iron suit? Or does mentioning Iron Man on the eve of its sequel bring you more attention? Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men like Pete Hammond? Maybe he is the Larry King of blurbdom, the kind of guy who would call a film like Iron Man "a thrilling, innovative and enormously entertaining movie that just may be the coolest AND smartest superhero adventure of them all" in 2008 only to be wooed over by a newer, younger superhero that he can get behind. Wow, that is just 150 kinds of wrong.
Quick, look what Lindsay MacDonald said earlier this year. "Move over Harry, here comes Percy!!" Yeah, get out of the way Potter, cause Mr. Jackson is coming. Jeez, new topic.
Somewhere in studio marketing departments, there is either a cluelessness or a sick sense of humor when they decide to put Roger Ebert and Ben Lyons on the same ads. It's kind of cute when they go the father/son route with Ben and Jeffrey, but this seems more akin to a slap in the face to Roger. The Pulitzer Prize winner about to launch the 12th year of his film festival is too classy to make the same judgment that Lugosi made of Karloff in Ed Wood, but we all know the score. Ebert and Lyons were the late ones to the Death At A Funeral ads though.
It was no surprise that Shawn Edwards, Kansas City's resident arbiter on the quality of African-American-themed cinema, gave it four stars. Seriously, try finding a film starring Will Smith, Jamie Foxx or Samuel L. Jackson that he isn't praising to the hilt (and that includes Freedomland, The Soloist and Bad Boys II). Black star, black cast or black subject matter, show it to Shawn Edwards early and you are practically guaranteed a quote.
"Nick Cannon gets an A+! He's witty, charming and fun to watch." (Underclassman)
"Queen Latifah is sensational!...Audiences are going to love this movie." (Last Holiday)
"Magnificent! A movie experience everyone will love. One of the year's very best." (The Secret Life of Bees)
"The funniest, craziest, wildest comedy of the year. Perfect family entertainment." (Are We Done Yet?)
"A family film that's perfect for everyone. It will have you laughing from beginning to end." (Are We There Yet?)
"A magical experience unlike anything you have ever seen. Wildly entertaining! It's a fresh, hip and an imaginative extravaganza that will dazzle and thrill audiences from beginning to end. OutKast are musical and visual geniuses that entertain with their creative brilliance and sheer showmanship. The rebirth of the cool OutKast style!" (Idlewild)
"It's a soulful and heartwarming crowd-pleaser that will have you laughing, crying and cheering." (This Christmas)
"A powerful film that will truly move you. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll stand up and cheer." (Radio)
"Outstanding! A completely inspiring, moving and motivating crowd pleaser. Gridiron Gang is a stand up and cheer classic! The Rock has never been better." (Gridiron Gang)
"Outrageously funny!" (I Think I Love My Wife)
"Hip, sexy and packed with laughs!" (Deliver Us from Eva)
"Totally hilarious! Martin Lawrence has never been funnier!" (Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins)
"The best comedy of the year!" (Barbershop 2: Back In Business)
"The funniest comedy of the year. The Wayans brothers have delivered another comedy classic." (White Chicks)
"****! The most powerful movie of the year! Profoundly uplifting and utterly provocative. An instant classic like Scarface." (Get Rich or Die Tryin')
"Hotter than July! ATL is an instant classic. A totally off-the-hook crowd pleaser." (ATL)
"Hilarious! Totally off the hook!" (Dysfunktional Family)
"A throw your hands in the air, knee-slapping, gut-busting crowd pleaser!" (Diary of a Mad Black Woman)
"Hysterical! The most enjoyable and entertaining movie of the season." (Tyler Perry's Madea's Family Reunion)
"One of the best movies of the year. (The Express)
"An electrifying cinematic achievement! A modern-day masterpiece. One of the best films of the year!" (American Gangster)
"****! One of the best films of 2003. A gripping, fascinating, brilliantly told story. A must see..." (Tupac Resurrection)
"A masterpiece, absolutely brilliant. One of the most powerful and moving films I've ever seen. A must-see." (Tsotsi)
"One of the coolest movies you'll ever see!" (Stomp the Yard)
"The best movie of the year! One of the most entertaining, exciting and intense movies ever made." (I Am Legend)
Any questions? Edwards may occasionally throw around some language he considers to be hip, but rarely is he given to usingwhat may be the lowest form of criticism - puns! If you want to be taken seriously people, for the love of God don't subscribe to the Gene Shalit method and try your hardest not to incorporate the title into your praise. It's only April for Pete's sake and we have already heard...
"Tim Allen's directing debut is a great escape." (Crazy On The Outside) - Jim McFarlin, Metro Times
"A howl of a ride." (The Wolfman) - Huffingtonpost.com
"You'd be crazy to miss it." (The Crazies) - Conor Nolan, The People (UK)
"Insanely entertaining." (The Crazies) - Chris Hewitt, St. Paul Pioneer Press
"...will get into your head." (The Crazies) - Claudia Puig
"...insanely scary...The suspense is mind-blowing." (The Crazies) - Capone, AICN
"Truly, madly, wonderful." (Alice In Wonderland) - The Hollywood Reporter
"I love Rock 'N' Roll and this movie!" (The Runaways) - Jan Wahl, KCBS AM/FM San Francisco
"This movie kicks ass!" (Kick-Ass) - Dennis Dermody
...and now we have Death At A Funeral:
"Death has never been funnier!" - Greg Russell
"You'll die laughing." - Jake Hamilton
"The most hilarious movie of the year! Drop dead funny." - James Thomas, WRBU-TV / "First Look"
Move over Gene Shalit. There are new puntastic junket hos in town and their names are Greg Russell, Jake Hamilton and James Thomas. Finally, there was one more quote on the Death ads that struck me as funny. It was from Carl Kozlowski of Pasadena Weekly who said, "The star-studded cast makes it the super bowl of comedy." I suppose that makes Peter Dinklage the kicker.