My takes on Kick-*ss and Eat, Pray, Love

My takes on Kick-*ss and Eat, Pray, Love

Okay, why review these two movies together?  Well, I saw these two movies in two days…and I figured that combination was pretty rare.  :)  I mean, it would be different if I saw every movie that came out, but when I go to the movies, it’s like anybody else.  Usually, my Significant Other (SO) and I try to agree on something, and off we go. 

I thought it was pretty funny…we happened to run into somebody I hadn’t seen in more than ten years (and with home I’d had a business relationship at the time).  That person was with a Significant Other as well…but one of them was going to see Eat, Pray, Love, and the other one was going to see The Expendables.

My SO is not an Expendables kind of person.  :)  However, I’m pretty flexible.  I think I’d suggested Eat, Pray, Love first, actually.

Yes, I like a lot of geeky movies and TV shows.  I try to watch them when my SO won’t need to sit through them, unless it’s something we might share.

Kick-*ss wasn’t going to be one of those.  ;)  I got that on DVD from Netflix.  I watch a lot more things on streaming through Netflix (using my Roku), but we still get DVDs.  We’re anxiously awaiting the new to DVD season of Dexter, for example.  Surprisingly to me, my SO likes that show.  Really well-written and acted, though.

It’s funny…if I’m home first and my SO comes in and I have, oh, Ray Harryhausen or the Three Stooges or Bela Lugosi on, I shut if off as soon as it would visible…it almost feels like hiding porn.  ;)  Not that my SO disapproves…in the immortal words of Super Chicken, “You knew the job was dangerous when you took it.” 😉

So, let me talk about Kick-*ss first.  To get the obvious thing out of the way, I don’t use that word in that context…even in conversation.  I don’t mind if you do.  :) 

I knew about the movie, of course, but I’d avoided spoilers, pretty much.  Honestly, it was better than I expected…which is always a good thing. 🙂

It is not going to be for everybody, even though there are some good performances and the script is pretty good.  It’s violent and harsh, has profanity  (quite a bit of it spoken by a little girl), and sexual content. 

But that said, it’s also a bit sweet and charming.  Aaron Johnson, who plays the main character, is going to play John Lennon in a movie (Nowhere Boy) getting its real release October 8 of this year (it’s been getting film festival play).   I can see that: Lennon is a difficult combination of outward brashness and inward insecurity.

Dave Lizewski, who becomes Kick-*ss, also has some subtle shades…but I’m not going to tell you he’s like a Beatle! 

This movie sounds like it’s going to be just plain fun, if you see the trailers and such.  I’m going to tell you a bit about here that could be considered spoilery, but most people probably wouldn’t. 🙂

SPOILER ALERT

What make  Kick-*ss work is that it isn’t just a goofball movie.  Yes, it’s about a regular guy who puts on a costume to fight crime, but this isn’t Jim Carrey kind of yuck fest.  The most striking character (literally) is Hit Girl, played by Chloe Moretz.  She’s one of the strongest things about the story and the movie.  I’d seen her before in (500) Days of Summer, but this is a really strong performance.

Hit Girl is a master of carnage.  When bad guys get sliced and diced, it’s going to be at her little hands.

However, think about it…how would that happen?  How would an 11-year old girl come to prefer a butterfly knife as a birthday present to a puppy?

Her father has essentially raised her to be a crime-fighter…and that’s not a good thing.  It’s uncomfortable…you feel a little like she’s one of the child soldiers in a third world country.  If her using the female insulting “c word” isn’t enough for you, she does it with no more compunction than she shows killing people.

Nic Cage, on the other hand, is one of the weaker points in the movie.  He is trying to play Hit Girl’s unhinged father as a nerd, and I think he’s having trouble finding the right reality calibration.  He tries to pull off a nerd laugh, and it doesn’t work. 

The effects aren’t always great: I had trouble with a major reveal at the end of the movie…and not just because it was quite unrealistic.  Believe it or not, the rest of the movie isn’t.

END SPOILER

If you are comfortable with edgy, violent, profanity-laden movies, this is one of the best ones you’ll see…at least, featuring a teen-age wannabe superhero. 

Oh, and there has been a sequel ,announced for 2012, with both Johnson and Moretz.

I didn’t like Eat, Pray, Love as much.  There are sort of three levels of evaluating a trip to the movies for me:

1. It sucked and I want my two hours back (that one is very rare for me)

2. It was nice to go to the theatre

3. I’m glad I saw that

Eat, Pray, Love is solidly in the second category for me.  I wouldn’t tell you to avoid it, but it was kind of like the Alice in Wonderland ride at Disneyland…you know you should see it, but it’s no Pirates of the Caribbean. 😉

Surprisingly, I found Julia Roberts the least interesting of the main actors.  That’s always true: I have liked her in some movies.  In this case, though, she seemed sort of…bland.  Oh, not that she didn’t show a range of emotion, she did…there’s an early crying scene that is likely to make you uncomfortable.  I just didn’t find anything really magnetic about her performance.

James Franco is in the movie, and he is one of those magical movie stars.  That’s not to say he isn’t an actor (it’s possible to be both).  But both my SO and I feel like he’s always interesting to see.  As we left the theatre and we were talking about it, I said, “That means I’m going to get you to see the Planet of the Apes  movie that’s he’s in next year, right?”  Well, let’s just say that may take things lining up properly.  It will be a plus for my SO that it doesn’t feature anthropomorphic apes played by people in suits, but we’ll see. 🙂

Richard Jenkins was great in this…good luck taking your eyes off his performance.  Javier Bardem is interesting.  We both thought Hadi Subiyanto was good as Ketut.

That wasn’t enough, unfortunately.  I have not read the book…which may be a good thing, although the book might have filled in some gaps.  There’s one dinner scene where there are a bunch of people it appears we should know…but really didn’t much.  I assume those are characters from the book getting a “Chekov moment”.  You know, like in the later Star Trek movies where all the characters had to get at least one important scene?  Not like Anton Chekov, but I am impressed. 🙂

The character would have benefitted from being more…quirky.  It’s hard to sell the ability to take a year off and travel around the world and make most people relate to you.  I mean, you have enough money to do that, enough flexibility to do that…and you are Julia Roberts?  It’s a little hard to connect with you.  Ellen Barkin 25 years ago would have been better (if impossible) casting.  There are always things about Ellen Barkin where you can see where her life isn’t perfect.

But I’m not sorry we went. 😉

Eat, Pray Love  at MRQE (reviews)

Kick-*ss at MRQE (reviews)

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle

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