Tim League showed us something, curious for our thoughts as to how appropriate it would be for children, so we obliged. What looked like a generic sumo wrestling clip soon took a turn when horny dogs were brought in to hump some guys' legs and ... other things. I'm pretty sure I witnessed a 69 humping. After this, and after assuring Tim that nothing could be more appropriate for children than dog humping, we saw the "AICN True-ish Hollywood Story," which was basically a collection of sarcastic insults and birthday wishes to Harry from various film personages, including Jon Favreau, Danny McBride, Damon Lindelof, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, JJ Abrams, and "Michael F***ing Bay, Motherf***er!" Jon Favreau concluded his birthday wishes and the entire clip by telling us we were going to be the first to see the Iron Man 2 trailer. Mickey Rourke is awesome. That is all.
Okay ... here goes. First, some trailers - Fearless Frank (with Jon Voight), Animal Protector (with David Carridine - audience love), and OMGIHAVETOSEETHISRIGHTNOW Return of Captain Invincible (a superhero musical spoof with Alan Arkin and Christopher Lee - WIN).
Harry then set up the next film by reminding us of the several films this year about endangered children, pointing out that Fearsome Toddler was turning the tide towards kids fighting back, perhaps even ... kicking ass. (*THUNDEROUS CHEERS*)
Sweet Holy Lord, what an awesome movie, even as a rough cut. The basic story, if you haven't heard much about it, is that a teenager named Dave, wondering why no one ever tried to be a superhero, decides to try and be one himself. He orders a wet suit and mask online, which becomes his costume, and goes out to help someone. Of course, not possessing superpowers or supergadgets, he gets his ass kicked on his first attempt and lands in the hospital. When he comes out, he's had metal implants and his nervous system is all jacked up, so he can take a lot of pain without passing out.
He goes back to school, amid rumors that he is gay (fueled by the fact that he stripped off his costume before the paramedics came, in order to protect his identity), and the girl he's got a crush on suddenly wants him to be her gay BFF. He makes a second attempt at thrilling heroics, and this one is much more successful. He saves a guy from a multi-thug beating, and someone captures the whole thing on a cell phone, asking Dave after the beatdown what his name is. Dave's response ... "I'm Kick-Ass."
Dave's video goes viral and catches the attention of a father-daughter duo, played by Nicholas Cage (sporting a mustache that makes him look like Stanley Tucci's child murderer in The Lovely Bones) and the unbelievably awesome Chloe Moretz. Not just any father-daughter duo, though. This father spends quality time with his daughter by teaching her how to take a bullet in the chest while wearing a Kevlar vest (do they even make those in kids sizes?) without flinching. Inspired by Kick-Ass, they become the vigilante heroes Hit Girl and Big Daddy.
Kick-Ass meets this duo on his next mission, trying to persuade a drug-dealing thug not to bother his girl-who's-just-a-friend anymore. Just when it seems he's in over his head, a knife appears out of the chest of one of the thugs and Dave meets the unbelievably ass-kicking eleven-year-old Hit Girl, who utters some choice profanities and proceeds to lay waste to the entire room to the strains of the Dickies' cover of the Banana Splits theme song ("Tra la la, la la la la!"). The musical cues in this movie were nothing short of INCREDIBLE, and it makes me sad that not every single one of them (15% of the music is still temp) will be in the final version. I think "Tra la la" will be, though, which is awesome. The movie was a genuine hit with the audience already, despite the fact that something seemed wonky with the sound, but right in the middle of Hit Girl's bullet ballet, wonky turned into dead.
The sound was out and the film stopped completely. The lights came up and Tim came out to explain some technical sound stuff I didn't understand. Something about a Tweeter. Twenty minutes passed while our very own Drafthouse superheroes worked tirelessly to get the sound restored, which they eventually did. The problem now, of course ... would the interruption ruin the screening? Would the audience be able to get back into the movie?
The answer came when the lights went down and the movie started again. But not at the point where we'd stopped. No, we were going to watch the entire sequence again - before Hit Girl's appearance, from Kick-Ass first going into the thug's apartment. The room positively shook with applause and cheers when they saw going to see that whole scene again. It was the second most amazing audience response in the whole film. So okay, Hit Girl opens a can of whup-ass, it's very very awesome, and we officially meet her and Big Daddy. And they kind of make fun of Kick-Ass a bit (Big Daddy actually calls him Ass Kick). But they're going to be allies, even though Kick-Ass would rather just sit back and let them be the heroes, since they're much better at it than he is.
There is the obligatory bad guy, Frank D'Amico (played by Mark Strong, who worked with Matthew Vaughn on Stardust playing Septimus). I don't think it's too clear (not that it needs to be) what exactly he does, but it's kind of general organized crime, drugs, etc. He's made lots of money by not-honest means, yet he's still a family man. Kind of a less likable Tony Soprano. His son Chris (played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse, who most of you know better as McLovin) wants to be part of the family biz, and when Kick-Ass, Big Daddy, and Hit Girl start getting in D'Amico's way, Chris offers to don a superhero costume himself and help out. He therefore becomes Red Mist, and due to daddy's money he has all the cool gadgets, including a badass car (complete with MIST ACTION - this car now belongs to Matthew Vaughn, by the way). He befriends Kick-Ass, who D'Amico believes is solely responsible for all the damage being done to his operations, and intends to deliver him to his father.
I'm not going to get into the rest of the plot - God knows, this is long enough - but this movie is an absolutely fantastic deconstruction of the superhero genre. By someone who actually loves the genre, as opposed to someone who, as Vaughn said in the Q&A, is just trying to be cool. The film is kind of a natural extension to the superhero phenomenon as a whole, as its focus is on people who admire superheroes and have grown up with these mythologies, much like the film's target audience will have done. It acknowledges how silly the idea of dressing up in a costume and kicking the bajeezus out of people is, but also kind of revels in the wonder and awe of what it might be like to actually try and do it.
I have to mention the most amazing bit of audience response. There's a moment during the climax, a calm before a storm, one of those moments where you know something amazing is about to happen, but you don't know what and the film wants to build it up a little bit. Another amazing music cue is used here. I'm sure most of you can call up a few bars of Guns N Roses' "November Rain" into your memory. Remember the bit at the end, when it kind of turns into a different song entirely and you hear those driving strings? That's the music used here, and it really effectively sets up the "something's coming" mood. So much so that the entire audience began clapping to the beat. This happens in concerts and sporting events, but not in movies, and if you've ever done this at a concert or something, you know there's always that point where it goes on a smidge too long and the clapping kind of peters out. Not so this time. The music and the moment in the film lasts just as long as they should, and everyone kept clapping the rhythm until there was nothing more to clap to. And amazingly, the scene this was building up to was every bit as awesome as such a build-up like that demands, which is rather rare.
I wasn't at the first 3 BNATs, but I'm fairly sure this was the most incredible audience reaction to any film at any BNAT. Director Matthew Vaughn and Red Mist actor Christopher Mintz-Plasse came to the front to a huge standing ovation and answered questions from the techinical (they're only just now beginning the grading process, and Vaughn thinks the print we saw looked terrible) to the mercantile (many, many ladies in the audience - including me - want a Hit Girl costume) to the inevitable talk of sequels (Chris reminded us that the film was not out yet and we should probably not be talking sequels until we know how well it does). Vaughn mentioned that they'd gotten permission for all the temp tracks they used, except two - the Dark Knight and the Superman theme. I confess, I didn't even recognize the Dark Knight music, but that Superman track is perfect, and I hope something can be done to keep it.
I'm so glad I got to be at BNAT for this.