Kick-Ass and Repo Men

kickassI rarely finish watching a movie once I start, so when I watch two films Repo Menwithin a week of each other and don’t care to finish either one, that’s something of an event in my life.  A movie has to fall into a certain well-defined stratum for me not to watch it front start to finish:  It has to suck (this kind of goes without saying, I suppose…), but suck in such a forgettable and distinctly unenjoyable way so as to make me not care about it.  Truly awful films canoften be fun to watch.  You can play the “oh-they’re-n0t-going-to-go-there” game, or play your favorite drinking game or whatever.

No such luck here.  Buckle your seatbelts.

Kick-Ass and Repo Men are bad in just about every way, but both stand-out in their awfulness in one particular way:  Neither film gives you any opportunity to give crap about anyone in the film.  Kick-Ass is the story of a demented, geeky comic-book-consuming high school kid who decides (for no discernible reason) to become a super-hero, and who mostly ends up getting his ass kicked (and knifed) throughout the first part of the film (which is all I managed to stomach).  It’s like the film is trying to be some sort of Spiderman directed by Judd Apatow.  You can almost see Tobey Maguire or Michael Cera in this role – although they both doubtless had the good sense to turn this script down.

What did it for me, though, wasn’t the dumb-ass plot, or the crappy boiler-plate teen-aged dialog:  it was the truly disturbing and repulsive characters played by Nicholas Cage and Chloe Moretz (Big Daddy and Hit Girl — yes, those are their names).   Cage can usually be counted on for delivering an extra-special idiosyncrasy to his characters, and while he’s been in more than his share of terrible films (Con-Air and Ghost Rider, for instance), he’s got absolutely nothing going on here.  The Batman knock-off character he plays is too obvious and the halting speech pattern he uses when in costume is just downright silly.

Young Chloe Moretz (13? 14? Something like that…) is the real trouble here.  She delivers lines like “Show’s over, motherfuckers” and “Whatta douche” (and several others) in flat-toned style worthy of Sigourney Weaver about to unload on a nest of aliens.  She slices and dices and generally acts like a murderous hellcat, but – for crying out loud – she’s a little girl! Maybe its because I have my own daughters, or someone innate misogyny I cannot shake, but I found this unbelievably stupid and completely offensive, and turned the whole mess off with a shudder.

Repo-Men, with Jude Law and Forrest Whitaker, is bad in another way, but is no less nauseating or boring.  Set in a future where people go into hock to buy replacement organs at something like 19% APR, Law and Whitaker are the two sociopathic “repo-men” who come to take the organs back when you get too far behind in your payments.  I cannot help but believe that someone in Hollywood watched the old Monty Python “Meaning of Life” film with its inimitable Live Organ Transplants skit when coming up with this film, except Python was always about being satiric and funny, and Repo-Men is completely serious.

Are we really to believe that this organ repossession business model could work?  Killing your delinquent customers only guarantees non-payment, doesn’t it?  And the excised liver/pancreas/kidney/etc. isn’t useful to anyone else.  It’s just silly.  It’s worse than silly, it’s distracting!  Law and Whitaker (two very talented actors – see The Road to Perdition for Law’s best and check out Whitaker’s wonderful cameo in The Color of Money for a small sample) have nothing to work with here.  They are more wooden than Pinocchio and seem to be anxiously waiting for each scene to end.  Suffice it to say, I fell soundly asleep twenty minutes in, long before any real plot developed – beyond the Repo-Men guessing which of the pedestrians they view from their care might be behind in their payments.

And with that, I nodded off.

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