Kick-Ass 2
Directed by Jeff Wadlow
Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Rated R for strong violence, pervasive language, crude and sexual content and brief nudity
1 hr. 43 min.

Oh my God! What has happened to one of my favorite films? The original Kick-Ass was such a wonderful sleeper hit in 2010. Funny. Smart. Charming.

So how did this poser end up as its sequel? Did someone sneak into the editing room and commit sabotage? Or was this just a punk version that the producers accidentally released. Either way, you have to ask: Where is the real Kick-Ass?

Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), the original Kick-Ass, is now a senior in high school and apparently no closer to being a real superhero than he was three years ago.

Just the opposite for his Hit Girl sidekick Mindy Macready (Chloë Grace Moretz), who skips school to train in her dead father’s old studio and kicks some criminal ass on the side.

When Dave asks her to train him, she puts him through his paces and teaches him the science and art of whoopin’ butt.

Since there are only two of them against the criminal world, they decide to find a superhero team and discover a group called Justice Forever led by Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey). Unfortunately, when Mindy is busted by her guardian, Detective Marcus Williams (Morris Chestnut), for skipping school, he makes her promise to stop being Hit Girl. Dave has to join without her.

Meanwhile, Dave’s old Red Mist nemesis, Chris D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), who has renamed himself Motherfucker, is determined to kill Kick-Ass in revenge for blowing his father away with a bazooka. Dressed in his deceased mother’s kinky dominatrix outfit, he assembles a countergang of misfits, including a steroid monster of a woman called Mother Russia.

The chase is on, and the results include but are not limited to:  severed limbs, a father hung in his jail cell, an attempted rape, and the beheading of a superhero. Get the picture? Oh, yes, and let’s not forget the rivers of puke and shit, superhero bathroom sex and, for good measure, a subplot that has Mindy dealing with a group of bitchy high school girls.

All of which leads me to wonder: Whose idea was this?

As best I can tell, all fingers point to director and screenwriter Jeff Wadlow, whose previous efforts include teen-terror films like Cry-Wolf and Never Back Down. I guess it makes perfect sense that he would bring these skills to Kick-Ass 2, with a jugular-slicing vengeance, no less.

But what about the story? Especially the funny parts?

Part of the charm of the first Kick-Ass was its love of comic books, its insight and humor about wanting to be special — heck, to be a real superhero and to make a difference in the world. In particular, it was the tenderhearted relationship between Kick-Ass, Hit Girl and their fathers.

Kick-Ass 2 wastes the considerable talents of Taylor-Johnson, who was riveting in Albert Nobbs; and Moretz, who gave such a bright performance in Hugo. But before either of these films, there was their pairing in the first Kick-Ass. And they really did kick some ass, with a little love and humor built in.

But not here. Instead, the producers and director chose to morph teenage comic book fantasy into a story about brutal street justice and to point out that in the real world, killing and maiming is how adults settle up. And if superheroes choose to join that league, so what? It’s how things get done.

While Kick-Ass 2 seems to be aimed at teenagers, this movie really is an adult vigilante pic that tries to have the best of both worlds:  adolescent fantasy and full-on carnage.

It’s not a good pairing. It’s not a good comedy. It doesn’t kick ass or even throw dirt, and I can only hope that, after sitting through this miserable aberration, there are no more sequels. Please. I can’t take the pain.