Jim Carrey Says His New Movie Is Too Violent

Posted on June 24, 2013 at 2:01 pm

The 2010 film Kick-Ass, about a group of young would-be superheroes who did not actually have any super powers, was controversial for its ultra-violence and for featuring a young girl, played by then-12-year-old Chloë Grace Moretz, who used extremely strong and crude language and who was a trained killer.

Now it seems the sequel may be even more controversial as Jim Carrey, who stars, has said that he will not support the film.  In two tweets, he said that the film was made before the shooting at Sandy Hook and he now believes that the violence is excessive and inappropriate.  “My apologies to others involve with the film. I am not ashamed of it but recent events have caused a change in my heart.”

The creator of Kick-Ass, Mark Millar, responded on his blog:

Like Jim, I’m horrified by real-life violence (even though I’m Scottish), but Kick-Ass 2 isn’t a documentary. No actors were harmed in the making of this production! This is fiction and like Tarantino and Peckinpah, Scorcese and Eastwood, John Boorman, Oliver Stone and Chan-Wook Park, Kick-Ass avoids the usual bloodless body-count of most big summer pictures and focuses instead of the CONSEQUENCES of violence, whether it’s the ramifications for friends and family or, as we saw in the first movie, Kick-Ass spending six months in hospital after his first street altercation. Ironically, Jim’s character in Kick-Ass 2 is a Born-Again Christian and the big deal we made of the fact that he refuses to fire a gun is something he told us attracted him to the role in the first place.

Ultimately, this is his decision, but I’ve never quite bought the notion that violence in fiction leads to violence in real-life any more than Harry Potter casting a spell creates more Boy Wizards in real-life. Our job as storytellers is to entertain and our toolbox can’t be sabotaged by curtailing the use of guns in an action-movie.


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Understanding Media and Pop Culture


Posted on August 3, 2010 at 8:00 am

“Kick-Ass” revels in its transgressive, nasty brutishness, and its audience will, too.
Of course, it’s one thing to have a 11-year-old girl in a comic book use very strong language and kill lots of people and it is another thing in a live-action movie, when the character is played by an actual 12-year-old. So let me say up front that I object to the rules allowing a child actor to perform this kind of role. If there are words an adult could be arrested for saying to a child, a child should not be permitted to say them on screen. Director Matthew Vaughn says that it is hypocritical for people to complain about the language used by a young girl, but not the violence. Well, first, I am complaining about the violence; I do not think children should be permitted to film graphic violent scenes whether they are the perpetrator or the victim (this movie has both). And second, the violence is fake but the language is real, so it is fair to take that seriously. So, for the record, to the extent I endorse this film, I want to be clear that I object to the involvement of a then-12-year-old in making it. kick-ass-hit-girl-uk-poster.jpg
The problem is that it is getting harder and harder to find anything that is shocking or disturbing and having a child use bad language — in this case some crude sexual terms that are arguably misogynistic — and shoot bad guys in the face is one of the few remaining ways to provoke that delicious boundary-defying sensation. And — reservations aside — it works. Seeing Hit Girl, well, kick ass to the kicked-up-a-notch cartoon theme from the “Banana Splits” and then to Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation” is a tonic. And there is something undeniably heady about seeing a vulnerable young girl mow down the bad guys — like “Home Alone” on crack.
“Kick-Ass” is a knowing tweak on the comic book genre. Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) is a comics-loving high school student who dreams of being a superhero, but, as he says, “My only super-power was being invisible to girls.” Undaunted, he orders a diving suit, turns it into a uniform, and re-creates himself as Kick-Ass, defender of justice. And then he gets beat up, stabbed, and sent to the hospital. No radioactive spider-bites or gamma rays, but he does come out of the hospital with two helpful results from his injuries — nerve damage that lessens his ability to feel pain and some metal plates in his bones that make his x-ray look — at least to him — like Wolverine’s.
Meanwhile, a former cop (Nicolas Cage) is raising his young daughter to be a killing machine, a pint-sized Kill Bill he calls Hit Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz). His superhero persona is Big Daddy and his uniform is reminiscent of both Batman and Night Hawk. What they don’t have in superpowers they have in training, equipment, very, very heavy artillery, and single-minded focus.
Director Matthew Vaughn (Stardust, “Layer Cake”) has a great eye and knows how to stage stylish, striking action scenes. Moretz (500 Days of Summer and Diary of a Wimpy Kid) has a great deadpan delivery and a natural chemistry with Cage, whose witty, skewed take is slyly funny.
The superhero genre has always been about transformation — the mild-mannered loser who contains within him (if only everyone knew!) a secret source of power. Here, the power is not x-ray vision or the ability to fly; just an extra dose of the hallmarks of adolescence: an affect of ennui about everything but smashing through limits and a sense of irony about everything but sex.


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MVP of the Week: Aaron Johnson

Posted on April 16, 2010 at 3:57 pm

British actor Aaron Johnson appears in two films that open this week. He plays the title role in Kick-Ass (featuring previous MVP Mark Strong) and he is very good both as the wimpy would-be superhero and the resilient, lithe almost-action star. And we see him in a small but crucial role in The Greatest as the beloved teenage son of Pierce Brosnan and Susan Sarandon and the all-too-brief boyfriend of Carey Mulligan. Witnessed mostly in flashback, he still makes a strong impression, making us feel his loss and connect to those who miss him.

In his next film, Johnson plays John Lennon in “Nowhere Boy.” Here’s a sneak peek:

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Is it All Right for Children to Use Bad Words On Screen?

Posted on March 2, 2010 at 3:59 pm

As I have already discussed, the red-band (mature material) trailer for the upcoming film “Kick-Ass” has an 11-year-old character played by a now-13-year-old girl using extremely crude language. The New York Times article focused on the accessibility of the trailer online, though it is supposed to be limited to adult audiences. But there is another aspect I’d like to look at as well. This movie is the third in recent months to feature a child using very crude or obscene language as a source of humor or as a signifier of coolness. I think it is because we are now numb to the shock value of even the strongest language used by adults, so all that is left is to have those words said by children.
In Cop Out a child who is referred to as the top local car thief uses a string of obscene epithets, kicks another character in the crotch, and then is himself kicked in the crotch. Bobb’e J. Thompson, now 13, has pretty much made a career of being the outrageous kid in movies like the 2008 release Role Models, where his character’s extreme and raunchy language is supposed to be funny.
We have a lot of rules to protect child performers. Their work hours are limited and the production is responsible for making sure they do not miss schoolwork. Their earnings are set aside so they cannot be appropriated by managers or family members. I do not want to impinge on anyone’s freedom of expression or artistic integrity, but I do not think that is what is at stake here. This is just exploitation of children who are not capable of protecting themselves. If an adult approached a child in the playground and used that language, he’d be arrested as a sexual predator. Is it really all right for us to allow children to use that language in a movie?

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Commentary Understanding Media and Pop Culture

Red-Band Trailers Reach Underage Audiences

Posted on February 23, 2010 at 9:36 pm

I am quoted in Brooks Barnes’ New York Times article today about the “red-band” trailer for a new superhero movie called “Kick-Ass.” Red-band trailers contain R-rated material and are supposed to be shown to adults only. In theaters, they are restricted to being shown before R-rated movies but online it has been impossible to stop them from being virally disseminated. The name comes from the red background on the notice of the content at the beginning of the trailer. In theory, it is red like a red light for a car, meaning stop. In reality, it is red like a red cape for a bull, meaning full steam ahead.
In the red-band trailers for “Kick-Ass,” an eleven-year old girl uses some of the strongest language possible and engages in a good deal of violent mayhem, killing many people. The girl is played by Chloë Moretz, who is now 13.

“Studios hide behind the notion of an age requirement for these trailers, but it’s pure fiction,” said Nell Minow, a lawyer who reviews films for radio stations and Beliefnet.com under the name Movie Mom. “It’s easy for kids to access, and that’s exactly how the industry wants it.”

Moreover, the severity of age policing varies, with some sites — including the Trailer Park section of MySpace, which had the red-band version as of Tuesday — seemingly leaving it to the honor system and asking for only an easily lied-about birth date. (A MySpace spokeswoman, Tracy Akelrud, said the site used other controls to detect under-age users. “If you are under 17, you will be blocked,” she said.)

The global nature of the Internet poses another challenge: foreign Web sites, which do not fall under control of the motion picture association, are easily reached through Google.

The studio, Lionsgate, has a good point when they say that the “suitable for appropriate audiences” green band trailer for the film gives a misleading impression of the movie’s content. Barnes quoted their statement: “It’s really important for people to know what kind of movie this is so they can make an appropriate decision about whether or not they want to see it.”
But it is also really important for people to be able to make that decision without exposing themselves or their children to the very material they think is unsuitable.
To express concerns about this issue, contact:
Marilyn Gordon
Vice Chair of the Classification and Ratings Administration (CARA)
15301 Ventura Blvd., Building E
Sherman Oaks, California 91403
(818) 995-6600 (main)
(818) 285-4403 (fax)

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Commentary Media Appearances Parenting Understanding Media and Pop Culture
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