This sequel logically, fearlessly allowed its characters to grow up and continue their story rather than try to repeat the past. Or put another way: High school sucks, growing up is hard, and life is always happening to you whether you’re ready for it or not.
It would have been difficult, if not impossible, to top the first movie. It was a a great surprise and an unexpected formula at the time. Add to that the 3 years of anticipation and hope, as the movie was on-again, off-again, and you had to know you should keep expectations in check. To their credit, they came close and created a new kind of message out of the ashes.
Overall, the new chapter is still as irreverent and unafraid as ever when it comes to subject matter and action. The cast all recommitted to their roles as if they’d just put them down the day before. Johnson (Anna Karenina, Savages) and Moretz (Hugo, Let Me In), in particular, extended their unique mythos. Carrey (I Love You Phillip Morris, Earth Girls are Easy), despite his vociferous denial of the movie prior to its opening, also delivered a solid and controlled performance. Mintz-Plasse (ParaNorman) is still way over-the-top, but that was his job. As his mother, Butler (Witchblade) was a great surprise and Leguizamo (Ice Age, To Wong Foo…) gave Mintz-Plasse a balance that helped sell the rest of his story. The rest of the cast, returning and otherwise, support the story well.
Despite Vaughn (The Debt, X-Men: First Class) stepping back to be only producer for this sequel, his influence is felt; the movie swings from absurdity to well-crafted emotional moments, though without his hand it is a little inconsistently executed. One of the biggest challenges for the film had to be where to start it. They opted for a nice homage to the first movie, but I counted multiple spots where it could have picked up. The new writer/director, Wadlow (Cry Wolf) focused on a near chronological telling which works, but caused some rhythm problems as the story build and took shape, which is probably its weakest aspect.
If you liked the first, this is a reasonable follow-up; it left me recharged and ready to take on the world… the first movie this summer since Iron Man 3 to make that happen. If you haven’t seen the original Kick-Ass, you really should start there first and then follow it through to this nice tie-up.
As a side note, since I was a kid I’ve stayed and watched all the credits to movies. Whether it was due to some deep seated need for complete-ism, a tad bit of OCD, or simply respect for the craft, I don’t know, but I always have. It is wonderful to see it paying off these days. This film, as so many recently, had a final tag after the credits. Only 4 of us remained in the theater when the tag for Kick-Ass 2 came on–all the rest missed out. Nope, I won’t tell you, you have to see for yourself.