Diary of a Wimpy Kid actually would have been a good alternate name for Kick-Ass, although Diary of a Wimpy Kid with a Pair of Police Batons might have been more accurate.
The real-world superhero genre has been getting a real workout lately. The teenage wish-fulfillment fantasy Kick-Ass is the most recent and high-profile example, but before that, Defendor and Special followed grown, troubled men in homemade costumes as they pursued a life of crime-fighting. Super walks down a similar road to the latter two, but with Kick-Ass's sense of humor and blood spatter, and the path it takes and the place it ends up are both different enough from the rest to make it worth watching. The mid-notch comedic cast helps, with Rainn Wilson and Ellen Page doing their regular things and Kevin Bacon stealing every scene as the alternately hilarious and scary villain, but the film also surprises the audience with its hallucinatory dream sequences and unadorned brutality, which keep things interesting. Plus, as everyone knows, everything tastes better with Bacon.
After briefly losing out to the still-popular How to Train Your Dragon, which initially reported $20 million in kiddie tickets for the weekend, R-rated not-so-superhero movie Kick-Ass came out on top in its opening bow. Its $19.8 million beats Dragon's third-week $19.6 million and, combined with its overseas income, recoups its budget, hopefully making the prospect of a sequel more likely. Because if there's one thing we love more than little girls beating up criminals, it's watching those little girls grow up to lead productive lives.
Being that this is a short work week, you'd think it would take more than hearing that Nicolas Cage is in talks with Marvel Studios to make a sequel to Ghost Rider to ruin my day. You'd think wrong. The trailer for the first movie was so bad that it alone soured me on Nicolas Cage, probably forever. And now they want to make another one? In a discussion with Dark Horizons, Cage said that he'd met with the studio three months ago and they discussed changing the setting completely. "The general idea was to take the character to Europe where he will work with the Catholic Church, deal with supernatural stuff on the continent and figure out a 'connection working with different religious figures.' The film's main antagonist has yet to be decided." Um, how about me?
Watching commercials for Kick-Ass, one might be tempted to think that the movie is over the top. And depending on your definition (are the Coen brothers over the top? Tim Burton? Neveldine/Taylor?), it probably is. But while over-the-top movies often turn out to be the most enjoyable, Kick-Ass is actually more down to earth than most "serious" superhero movies. That's because the main character in the movie isn't a comic-book character, he's just an insecure teenager, and the other heroes are not superpowered at all -- they're just intelligent people with a flair for the dramatic and the element of surprise. The movie still goes a bit too far in places, but compared to the Crank series, Kick-Ass is like An Education with ski masks. It's also really funny, really violent and really entertaining.