Saturday, 30 April 2016

Movie Review: Kickassia (2010)



As I mentioned previously, the reason why Meta Month is set during April is because it was this month six years ago that I first watched an Internet video review which lead me down the long, winding path to this spot. Well, April 2010 also served as another important point for certain Internet critics. Cross-overs between reviewers is nothing new; hell, Siskel & Ebert was very much a cross-over and that existed long before YouTube was even a concept in the back of some guy’s head. However, in terms of the online video realm, the Nostalgia Critic had been toying with the concept ever since he started, pretty much. From his feud with the Angry Video Game Nerd to his review of FernGully with the Nostalgia Chick, there’s been a collaborative air to his work for a long while now. So, after the success of the big TGWTG team-up brawl as the capstone to the AVGN beef, Doug and co. got a bunch of the then-current site talent together for the start of what would be a yearly tradition for quite a while afterwards: The massive cross-over film. This was where the whole DIY aesthetic of the Internet video reviewer got turned its head a little, as not only were a large number of them congregating into a single piece but they were going for a feature-length production, when most of their work would usually range in the 5-25 minute market. But, with all the years of retrospect and advances made to the format as a whole, does this film still hold up? In fact, did this ever hold up? Let’s take a look as we close out Meta Month at a look at the TGWTG 2 Year Anniversary film. This is Kickassia.


The plot: The Nostalgia Critic (Doug Walker) decides that he want to take over Molossia, a little over an acre-large micronation in Nevada. To accomplish this, he gathers his fellow critics together to wrestle control of the nation from president Kevin Baugh. However, once the Critic has taken over Molossia, it seems that his intentions for this new conquest aren’t all on the up and up.

We have a whole host of critics here, a large number of which I’ve covered over the last month, and most of them get put to good use here. The Critic himself flexes some megalomaniacal muscle here and his character’s contentment in just owning a speck of land is pretty funny. Linkara pulls out his Patton impression for the final part that makes for some good laughs, and he works as a good voice of reason for a fair amount of the weirdness going on. Spoony plays up his alter-ego a lot as a source of PTSD for him, one of the few times when this supposed war film parody starts to feel as such, and his Insano antics are always good. Phelous is probably the best of the lot, as his usual sardonic routine works really well with the idea-snatching relationship he has with the Critic this time around. The Snob bounces off of everyone else really nicely, and he honestly seems to have the best handle on his dialogue delivery here. Angry Joe lets his psycho flag fly as the crazed soldier, which is always a nice look for the guy. Sage shows some of his more vicious personality, with his scene detailing his work as the nation’s medical official giving him some nice material. And Film Brain is the butt-monkey, because apparently I should have been thankful that he showed as much of a spine as he did in NerdQuest. The rest of the cast gets their occasional moments, but otherwise people like LordKaT, Marzgurl, the Game Heroes, Benzaie, PawDugan, even James Rolfe when he makes his cameo; they’re just there, mostly. They get a moment or two to themselves, but they are essentially the supporting cast I will say though, if nothing else, this film did make me realize just how much I’ve missed 2-D Lee as he is very entertaining in this thing.

This film has only the barest bones of a plot. Sure, there’s quite a few sub-plots like the Nostalgia Chick as a Sarah Palin analogue who secretly wants the presidency for herself or Kevin Baugh as Fritz von Baugh trying to manipulate things behind the scenes, but this is still a fairly basic ‘excuse to get everyone together’ premise that is largely carried by a collection of skits strung together. But as my previous track record may have shown, I have no real problem with these kinds of films so long as the skits themselves are actually funny. And thankfully, this film’s biggest strength is the simple fact that Doug got a bunch of funny people together to interact with each other on film. Within the context of the critical scene at the time, this was the first big showing of a bunch of producers in a single frame, without relying on green-screening and trick editing to pull it off (okay, save for 2-D Lee, but that’s just an aspect of the character). It’s essentially people snarking each other for 90 minutes, with a few sped-up punch-outs peppered throughout. It serves as a nice showcasing of their individual styles, even if some of them are underused, and aside from a couple touches like the relationship between Linkara and Insano, it’s honestly pretty welcoming for new viewers. It would just be nice if there was something a bit meatier to bring them all together, something that would thankfully improve over the next few anniversary specials.

All in all, it’s an excuse for a bunch of critics to get together and realize that maybe running a nation is a lot busier than they would’ve thought (well, than the Critic thought at least); it’s fun for what it is. The plot is pretty limp but the banter between the characters is good, its cheesier moments like the moments involving Santa Christ are thankfully offset by everything else around it and the script makes some nice points about the fanboy fantasy of owning your own country and how most people who possess such a fantasy are probably the least likely to do a good job with it. Insert joke about U.S. Presidential hopefuls here. This was my first encounter with a lot of these critics and I ended up checking most of them out after seeing this, making for one of the bigger steps in my cinematic growth, so even if the product itself is kinda-sorta lacking in areas, it holds a certain special place with me as I’m sure it does for a lot of CA fans out there. As a straight-up dive into the medium and some of its bigger names, it’s worth a watch if anything I’ve brought up over the last 30 days has been of interest to you.

And while I’m on the subject of this whole monthly celebration thing… I think I like talking about these guys and their work a little too much to let another year go by before I can do it again. So, screw it, I’m making it Meta Month all year long; the Top 20 lists and reviews of critic-centric media is going to become a regular feature here at Mahan’s Media, and while I may give it a rest for a little while after this, it will most certainly continue. I mean, I hadn’t even gotten to a quarter of all the different personalities I wanted to cover. I’d like to thank everyone who has joined me on this look into my deepest pop culture obsession, and hopefully a few of you are going to stick around as we resume business as usual with some more current film reviews. And oh my Christ, do we have a doozy for you next time.

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