The Friday Movie Blog

Iron Man 2 and Kick-Ass are way more entertaining than WHYY's pledge drive

I was not supposed to be here. It was 7:05 p.m. and the preview of Iron Man 2 would be starting in 25 minutes at the United Artists King of Prussia. Yet, here I was: standing at an ATM in the Fairfield Inn in Pottstown, quickly trying to get cash for the PA Turnpike. I had just taken the Downingtown exit where I had to explain to the attendant that I only had one dollar (65-cents short of the toll). So how did I end up there, do you ask? GoogleMaps and WHYY, that’s how. The one instructed me to make a left in 0.3 miles; the other distracted me with their radio pledge-drive babble (small-talk torture!). So instead of taking the correct left, I found myself on a 26-mile turnpike detour to the movie—which I made, with minutes to spare. I was cranky. I was hungry. I was feeling shame for not becoming a WHYY member. So I bought ridiculously overpriced pretzel bites with melty cheese-product dipping sauce. And a barrel-size Sprite. Then I sat down and proceeded to have one of the best movie experiences I’ve had in quite a while.[SIGNUP]

Iron Man 2 continues where the first left off. Tony Stark continues to be incredibly wealthy and absurdly popular; his Iron Man has not only created world peace, it has also lead to lucrative, Disney-like merchandising. He’s brash. He’s impulsive. He’s forced to deal with new enemies: the U.S. government, a weapons competitor Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell), and an angry Russian (Mickey Rourke) who’s out for revenge. The movie does fall victim to the standard superhero sequel credo that more characters = better. And while Scarlett Johansson does her best to distract (with pouty, bland acting), director Jon Favreau keeps Downey as the main attraction. Downey’s bravura exudes from the screen—you only want him to be more arrogant, more obnoxious, more bombastic. And while you’re not quite sure where the actor ends and the character starts, it’s one hell of a ride. Equal recognition needs to go to Gwyneth Paltrow. As Pepper Potts, she is a perfect foil to Stark. Their overlapping, multi-conversational banter evokes great moments of ’40s movie comedies. Insider tip: Stay through the closing credits. (In theaters; click here to see where it’s playing near you.) My Grade: A-

Kick-Ass has a simple plot—an average kid decides to become a superhero. It’s big. It’s awesome. It’s bloody. Really bloody. Like Quentin Tarantino bloody. While many have complained about a foul-mouthed 11-year-old girl (Chloe Moretz) slicing and dicing up some bad guys, hers is sure to be the breakout performance of the year. It succeeds in a way I wished Watchmen had. (In theaters; click here to see where it’s playing near you.) My Grade: A-