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When Jim Carrey Went Wacko Superhero in Wild Comic Book Sequel Kick-Ass 2
Kick-Ass 2's Colonel Stars and Stripes is one good guy you definitely don’t wanna mess with.
As any Star Wars lover knows, it’s almost impossible to find common-ground consensus among fans when it comes to movie sequels. That’s certainly the case with 2013’s Kick-Ass 2 (streaming here on Peacock!), which didn’t match the box office numbers of its groundbreaking 2010 predecessor or reach the heights of of the first film’s lofty Rotten Tomatoes score.
Maybe it's all just a matter of timing and perspective. In hindsight, the Jeff Wadlow-directed sequel, based on comic creator Mark Millar’s graphic novels, hilariously expands on the silly lore the first film laid down in just about every meaningful way. Stacked with a bigger, more ridiculous batch of home-brew heroes and villains and freed from any need to explain the basics of the first film’s low-fi vigilante premise, Kick-Ass 2 plays as an all-comedy killer (and no filler) from start to finish.
Why Jim Carrey Ruled as Colonel Stars and Stripes in Kick-Ass 2
From the opening moments of friendly bullet-fire onward, established franchise heroes Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Mindy Macready aka Hit-Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) hit the ground at full sprint, only this time surrounded by a constellation of kooky wannabe criminals and crime-fighters — none more memorable, or more distinctive for the actors who played them, than Jim Carrey’s fresh arrival as gung-ho good guy Colonel Stars and Stripes. Carrey ended up distancing himself from the movie citing its cartoonishly violent content, though there’s no denying his turn as a (possibly) PTSD-altered hero rates up there with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind for revealing a side to his acting range that hadn’t been seen before.
Dialing back his customary Ace Ventura antics in exchange for a smoldering slow-burn performance not too far removed from Ned Bellamy’s funny Seinfeld soldier (as an edgy veteran who becomes Elaine’s unlikely writing partner in the 1996 episode “The Fatigues”), Carrey’s soldier act works precisely because he keeps his trademark outrageous impulses (mostly) in check. Colonel Stars and Stripes is basically a good guy with a stinky criminal past, a “born-again Christian” who heads a community squad of superhero do-gooders, and — hilariously — the most-high-functioning member of a hero team that functions more like a sad-sack support group than a cut-rate Justice League.
The Colonel and other self-starting superheroes begin popping up across town thanks to the neighborhood antics that Dave and Hit-Girl pull off in the original Kick-Ass. Their big win over the first film’s main baddie goes viral, inspiring tons of well-meaning costumed copycats (including Dave’s eventual love interest Night-Bitch, played by Lindy Booth; as well as sidekick Doctor Gravity, played by Donald Faison). But that same inspiration cuts both ways: Left without a dad thanks to the first film, Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) transforms himself into “The Motherf***er,” drafting a team of Purge-worthy hellions (including a “Black Death” menace played by Daniel Kaluuya) whose only goal is to take down Hit-Girl and Kick-Ass — the duo ultimately responsible for bazooka-ing his criminal father in the first place.
Carrey’s screen time is cut short after Mother Russia (a menacingly funny Olga Kurkulina) quite literally cuts the Colonel to bits, but he’s there just long enough to give Kick-Ass 2 the same kind of comedic wild-card energy that Nicolas Cage brought to the first film as Big Daddy, Hit-Girl’s similarly demented and traumatized dad. Is the Colonel a little unbalanced? Of course he is: His closet’s full of camo, he commands an attack dog named Eisenhower, and he totes a star-spangled axe handle that serves as his signature melee weapon. But in a satire about grassroots vigilantism, where the biggest villain calls himself “The Motherf***er,” and his sidekick commits murder with a lawnmower, he’s the perfectly flawed hero.
There’s tons more fun to be found in Kick-Ass 2, including an opportunely hungry shark, a short but sensational cameo from UFC fighter Chuck Liddell, and an awesome subplot about Hit-Girl’s attempt to leave her violent past behind to seek a “normal” teenage life amongst her vapid high school peers. But it’s Carrey’s performance, along with a high-impact turn from Garrett M. Brown as Dave’s tragically-fated dad, that deliver the biggest emotional impacts in a movie where the comedic impact, most of the time, comes from fists, nunchuks, and even the occasional lawnmower blade.