Kick-Ass was strongest when providing a realistic enough basis for dispensing gleeful, disgusting violence, and weakest when departing too much from the “superheroes in the real world” premise. With Kick-Ass 2, that premise is forgotten from the start. Sure, there are no super powers and the characters have day jobs and relatively believable motivations, but why would anyone have a secret identity and then post online that they’re dating a superhero? (Then again, foolish over-sharing online may be the most realistic element of either movie.)
Kick-Ass 2’s biggest problem is that it’s too dull to be either funny or disturbing. There is some good material here, Hit Girl remains great, the dead shark gag is amusing, but often the movie sets up for something outrageous and then cowers from it (except for a vomiting-pooping joke that could appear in any innumerable Scary Movie sequel). Rather than critique, relish or recoil from its violence, it shrugs it off, as though the characters have watched Kick-Ass a few too many times.
The opening scene, rehashing one of the original’s most famous, is one of the few which manage the whimsical edge of the predecessor, while others, from the mean high school girl subplot to the most explosive of the revenge story, lack energy or subversion. Hit Girl is easily the best character, with Chloe Grace Moretz being the highlight, but her story isn’t as interesting as it could be and leaves the narrator/titular character in the background. Kick-Ass himself becomes a costume, more important as a symbol than a person, while the audience waits for Hit Girl to return to slaughtering motherf**kers.
Most of Kick-Ass 2’s pre-release press came from Jim Carrey refusing to promote it in the wake of Sandy Hook due to the movie’s violent content. While his intentions or commitment can be debated, the ironic thing is that Kick-Ass 2 isn’t anywhere near as violent as implied. In fact, compared to both the previous film and the source material, it’s pretty tame. Not in terms of blood or body count but in terms of playful/sickening destruction. Perhaps Carrey’s most important statement on the film is his character’s advice of, “Have fun. That’s what it’s all about.” Sadly, Kick-Ass 2 didn’t listen. [subscribe2]