"Kick-Ass 2" is the follow-up to Matthew Vaughn's controversial 2010 action comedy "Kick-Ass." Based on a comic book by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr., the original shocked audiences with its depiction of a vigilante father (Nicolas Cage) who molds his pre-teen daughter Mindy (Chloe Grace Moretz) into a killing machine called Hit Girl. Fast-forward a few years, and now Hit Girl is a freshman in high school with the "first superhero" Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). They team up to take down petty criminals until Mindy promises her guardian she'll try to be a "normal teenager" -- which turns her into a pet and then target for the resident Mean Girls -- and drives a lonely Kick-Ass to join a Justice League-style group of other superhero wannabes, led by Colonel Stars & Stripes (Jim Carrey). Their chief nemesis is a "super villain" called "The Motherf---er," formerly known as Red Mist. If his name didn't make it clear enough, yes, this is a movie with a lot of coarse language, crass jokes, and sexual references.
There's no question that this is a hard-R movie, but if you're considering letting your teen see "Kick-Ass 2," keep reading.
1. What did you think of the original? Obviously "Kick-Ass 2" is a sequel, so if your teen hasn't seen the original, this installment won't make as much sense, as there are many references to plot points and characters killed in the first movie. If your teen did see "Kick-Ass," and you had zero issues with the amount of violence, language and other mature content in that, then also bear in mind that this one is even more graphic. Still OK with you? Then you can probably skip to the showtimes & tickets section.
2. How do you feel about extreme violence in movies? New York Post critic Kyle Smith sums it up succinctly: "Be forewarned that there is a fairly amazing display of violence, most of it involving youngsters. Twenty-five years ago a film like this would have inspired sober op-eds and congressional hearings. Today we realize the fall of the Republic is not going to ensue, but that doesn't mean the movie's frantic lunges at the inappropriate don't become tiresome at times." The violence includes everything from impalement, dismemberment, a gruesome sequence in which 10 NYPD officers are killed, an attempted rape that's shockingly played for laughs, and a whole lot of blood spray. There's also a lot of scatological "humor" thanks to a device that causes people to projectile vomit and suffer from uncontrollable (and immediate) bouts of diarrhea.
3. Do you worry about sex/language? Then this is not a movie you'll be in any way okay with your teen seeing. There's so much swearing even two adult characters make note of it. Mindy/Hit Girl's guardian Marcus (Morris Chestnut, with not much to do but look concerned) makes her put a dollar in a "swear jar" every time she lets an F-bomb loose, and by the end of the movie he's had to add another jar, both of which are overflowing with bills. And Carrey's Colonel Stars & Stripes (whose back story boils down to "former Mob enforcer turned evangelical Christian in fatigues") keeps reminding the teens about their language and to not say "Christ" or "Jesus." There's also sex in the movie, and not just the act itself -- which takes place off camera (usually behind a bathroom stall). The "Mean Girl" clique at school tries to instruct Mindy about teen sexuality by calling it the feeling you get when you see Union J (think blatant One Direction rip-off), or "Twilight" or Channing Tatum. One girl even says, "I know, I'm soaked" after they stream a video of the British boy band singing a pop ballad. "Motherf-er" traipses around in his dead mother's S&M leathers, and he cavorts with topless "sidekicks," who even his older confidant admits are actually just prostitutes.
4. Who will enjoy the movie most? Because of the crass jokes, the casual, objectifying nudity, the attempted-rape-as-a-punch-line scene, and of course, the explicit scenes of gory violence for violence's sake, this is not a movie for kids or teens. Teens 15 and up will definitely want to see the movie, and obviously some parents have no qualms about letting their teenagers see hard-R releases, but there's just too, too much; the language is one thing (even though it's rare to hear the C-word and other vulgarisms for vagina quite so many times), but the extreme violence and that one sexual assault joke are inexcusable. So even though it's teenage boys who will enjoy this movie most for it's shock value, it's an adults' only flick.
5. What are critics saying about "Kick-Ass 2"? Critics are mostly disappointed with the sequel, and its release day average on Rotten Tomatoes is a "rotten" 27 percent, with a slightly better 42 on Metacritic. "Like its own protagonists, "Kick-Ass 2" can't decide what it wants to be when it grows up: a vessel for unhinged vengeance and destruction or a meta-critique of those same impulses. In going for both, it winds up being neither," says Ann Hornaday of the "Washington Post." But most praise Moretz: "Of course, Hit Girl comes out of retirement, and not a moment too soon because Moretz's foul-mouthed physicality, so coarsely counter to her Seventeen magazine sweetness, is still the best thing about this franchise. Hit Girl mines more excitement from a single florist van than most movies wring from fleets of speeding cars. She's an adorable bruiser in what becomes a gaping wound movie," says Steve Persall of the "Tampa Bay Times."