STARS > Aaron Johnson, Nicolas Cage, Chloe Moretz, Clark Duke, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Lyndsy Fonseca, Even Peters
DIRECTOR > Matthew Vaughn

The previews may make it look like I Love You, Beth Cooper with faux superheroes, however Kick-Ass is anything but another typical teen-targeted action flick. Instead Kick-Ass is an emotionally complex and fully realized work of art that pays homage to everything from The Professional to Pulp Fiction. The film–which was inspired by the Mark Millar comic of the same name–centers around Dave Lizewski (played by newbie Johnson), a geeky high-school student and comic book aficionado who decides to become a superhero despite the fact that he has no special powers.

Shortly after videos of him fighting real-life bad guys surface on the internet, Lizewksi (aka Kick-Ass) inherits a cast of fellow crime fighters including Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Nicolas Cage who work together to squash crime and put gangsters in the ground. Aside from proving that Mintz-Plasse may actually transcend his McLovin’ role from 2007’s Superbad, the most impressive aspect of Kick-Ass is the performance by pint-sized Chloe Moretz, who plays Cage’s daughter, Hit-Girl. Although she’s cute, her fight scenes are expertly arranged and unbelievably violent.

That said, while the film has its share of severed limbs and point-blank shootings (including one with a military-issued bazooka), Kick-Ass also manages to capture what it’s like to be a teenager who is trying to find his place in the world-and in many ways the character of Kick-Ass acts as a metaphor for every gawky high-school student who wishes they could take control of their surroundings instead of being dominated by them. Sure, strapping on a scuba outfit and fighting crime might not be a viable option for most people, but living vicariously through Kick-Ass is something all of us can enjoy. –Jonah Bayer