This image is, at a conservative estimate, about 45% of the movie.
The Dinner: A "Number Three" at Shorty's Coney Island.

The Movie: Kick-Ass at


Shorty's Kicks Ass, and So Does Kick-Ass

This image is, at a conservative estimate, about 45% of the movie.
The Dinner: A "Number Three" at Shorty's Coney Island.

The Movie: Kick-Ass at Big Picture Movies at 2505 First Ave, in the basement of El Gaucho.

The Screenplate: I should start here by saying that I, in all earnestness, believe that Kick-Ass is the greatest comic book adaptation ever made. Working back from that statement, it's not the most competent, watchable film, nor is Kick-Ass the most competent, readable comic book. In terms of plot, Kick-Ass: The Movie isn't even even very faithful to the source material. What makes Kick-Ass such an awesome adaptation is its success in maintaining the flexibility and high melodrama that comes to comic books so easily while retaining the break-neck pace and stunning visual effects that come with your modern action film.

Kick-Ass is a good adaptation because it understands its source material while still feeling confident enough as a standalone film to diverge from it for its own benefit. It's a brilliant adaptation because it can do this dramatically without alienating its original fan base. More or less, this is the same reason I believe Shorty's makes such a great bar.

The greasy, red clown nose of Belltown is book-ended between the perpetually hip Crocodile and the gaudy deliciousness of Mama's Mexican Kitchen, shining bright as a beacon to an increasingly withered Nintendo Generation. While many bars will shove a few pinball tables in their darkest corners, Shorty's keeps theirs in the heart of both the physical establishment and the atmosphere it creates.

The front bar is a monument to epilepsy, featuring flashing lights, an unsettling amount of clown imagery and the gutted, stuffed remains of pinball machines put to pasture as the bar's main tables. It is here you can get the cornerstone of the boozy big-top emulation--an assortment of fully loaded hotdogs for meat eater and veggie alike.

I settled on "The Number Three", a pile of cream cheese, goat peppers, tomatoes and some other humble fixings obscured by a lake of ketchup and the lovely line-up of cocktails that Big Picture had to offer before, during and after my filmgoing experience (just so you know, their popcorn, although delicious, isn't necessarily the best choice to absorb alcohol). The hot dog's presentation was mostly limited to what could be done by the bartender while pouring a draft with the other hand.

It isn't pretty, but if it was, I'd feel cheated. After all, why would I come to a pinball bar for something that wasn't gloriously messy?

A lot of "The Internet" has this bizarre, collective idea in its head that Hollywood adapting every single comic book property to film is the greatest cinematic advancement since Technicolor. No one ever really asked "why are we doing this?" besides to put a few more bucks in the original creators' pocket while making millions for studios with a lack of creativity. While the recent bubble of comic book movies have produced solid, entertaining, captivating stories, it's also laid way for boring, paint-by-numbers, auto-piloted pandering to an increasingly disturbed niche audience. If that wasn't bad enough, we also get a whole new breed of masturbatory, totally insane bullshit when comic book legends are put behind a movie camera and are expected to know what to do next. What's the point of comic book movies when you aren't taking full advantage of movies and comic books?

Here's a brief detour to help better understand what I'm talking about: X-Men and Batman Begins both had special edition comics adapting the movie adaptation back into short-run comic book form. These comic-books-cum-movies-cum-comic-books-again were released at more or less the same time as the film. This sort of re-adaptation is there to both cash in on the movie's hype and to reconcile the differences from the original creator's vision and the movie director's vision.

If you were to do something like this for Kick-Ass, the result would be bafflingly superfluous. This isn't because the movie and the comic book have the same exact story, it's just that director Matthew Vaughn has taken such pains to stick to the original style and tone that there are few formal discrepancies to capitalize on.

Many critics have accused Kick-Ass of being yet another mindless exercise of style over substance in a despicable moral vacuum. Now, as history has constantly reminded us over the years, when it comes to artists ranging from Gustave Flaubert to Quentin Tarantino, that sort of criticism is usually reserved for the most exciting new currents in artistic expression. When people who have spent their entire lives reviewing a certain kind of art form are suddenly shocked out of their comfort zone by a piece, it's hard not to start paying attention.

Kick-Ass is one of those movies that's hard to review because the standard criteria of reviewing either a comic book or a film don't apply to it. You can call it exploitative (it is), you can say it ignores any concept of character arc or emotional growth in lieu of the biggest possible grand finale battle (it does), or you can even call it a sleazy last-ditch effort at a franchise before the comics fad dies down (it probably will). But if great movies like The Shining can be perfectly safe to acclaim while being flawed adaptations, then why can't great adaptations like Kick-Ass be lauded while being a flawed film? Sometimes when you have all the ingredients you love, it doesn't hurt to just throw them all together and play, an ethos that Shorty's holds near and dear as well.

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