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Junior Hijinks 

The weak-ass punch of Kick-Ass' potty-mouthed preteens, plus the 43rd HFF

Previews

Opening Friday, Apr. 23, Jennifer Lopez decides that waiting for Mr. Right is taking too long in Back-Up Plan. Wouldn't you know it? As soon as she goes and gets herself artificially inseminated, some dashing dude saunters into her life. What's a girl to do? Rated PG-13 for sexual content and crude material. 104m. At the Broadway, Fortuna and Mill Creek.

There was a time when girls didn't rock as hard as they do now. The story of ‘70s rock band The Runaways featuring Joan Jett (Kristin Stewart) and Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning) chronicles how all that changed. Courtney Love, you're welcome. Rated R for sex, drugs and rock ‘n' roll. 109m. At the Broadway.

In The Losers, members of an elite U.S. Special Forces team are sent into the Bolivian jungle to find a really bad dude who wants to incite global war. Unfortunately, before they can save the world, the team is betrayed by their own government. Eat that. Rated PG-13 for intense kabooms and language. 98m. At the Broadway, Fortuna and Mill Creek.

The 43rd Annual Humboldt Film Festival, allegedly "the oldest international student-run film festival in the world," is underway and runs all this week in HSU's Van Duzer Theatre.

If you pick this paper up on Wednesday, April 22, you can attend Animation/Experimental Day events including an afternoon workshop with festival judge Brian O'Halloran, an actor best known for his work in director Kevin Smith's oeuvre, in particular for playing the role of Dante, the convenience store clerk in Clerks. The evening screening focuses on short animated and/or experimental films, 21 total.

Thursday, April 23 is deemed Documentary Day with an evening screening of nine docs including Home Is Where You Find It, a film from Mozambique shot in part by a teen AIDS orphan, A Thousand Suns, about the Gamo people of Ethiopia, and Tortured Law, a film from Alliance for Justice about Bush era legal opinions that authorized torture. The afternoon workshop is led by Betsy McLane, project director of the American Documentary Showcase and co-author of A New History of Documentary Film.

Friday is Narrative Night with nine films including En La Otra Camilla, a Spanish film about a pair of kidnappers and their elderly captive, and The Iranian Dream, a mockumentary about an Iranian man supporting his family as an exotic dancer, along with films from India, Germany and the U.S.A. The afternoon session features Hollywood agent Rima Greer on "Guerilla Filmmaking: How to Make Great Movies Outside of Hollywood with No Money."

The fest closes Saturday with the "Best of the Fest" award-winners and all of the judges in attendance. All events take place in HSU's Van Duzer Theatre, workshops begin a 5 p.m., evening screenings at 7:30.

Other movies out and about: The monthly "Fourth Friday Flick" at Westhaven Center for the Arts is the 1951 musical An American in Paris, starring song-and-dance man Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron.

Are you familiar with Browncoats? They're serious fans of Joss Whedon's sci-fi/western TV series Firefly, which, much to their dismay, lasted less than on season. Browncoats take their name from a rebel faction in the TV show, which was followed by a film, Serenity, again written and directed by Whedon. The Humboldt Browncoats are hosting a screening of that film Sunday at the Arcata Theatre Lounge, complete with a costume contest, Mudder's Milk drink specials (something from the series) "and more!" Showtime 5 p.m. Brown dusters optional.

April's "Based on the Book" film series at the Eureka branch of the Humboldt County Library concludes Tuesday, April 27, with The Man Who Would Be King, a colorful John Huston movie based on a short story by Rudyard Kipling about a pair of underhanded British military men (Sean Connery and Michael Caine) who endeavor to become crowned kings of Kafiristan in the mountains of Afghanistan. Phil Wright hosts and leads a post-film discussion.

Reviews

KICK-ASS: Kick-Ass got a pre-opening publicity blitz that any film would envy. A significant aspect of that campaign revolved around the fact that 11-year-old Chloë Grace Moretz, who plays Hit-Girl in the film, spouts out a lot of words that can't be printed in family newspapers and the repetition of which gets a film an R rating.

Indeed, the terminally cute Hit-Girl gets to let loose a number of f-words and use other assorted impolite language. If school girls in masks saying "Just fucking with you Daddy" floats your boat, then you'll love this film. An added bonus is that she also gets to slaughter a lot of bad guys with big guns and other lethal weapons. Others of us may have to dig a little deeper to find something to enjoy in the film.

Based on the comic of the same name, the film rights for which were sold before the first issue was published, Kick-Ass has a definite comic book feel and that's not necessarily a negative feature. The story begins with nondescript high school student Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) and his two buddies. They don't belong to any group at school and after the three are mugged by two older guys, Dave decides to become a super-hero by ordering an outfit from the Internet that looks like a scuba suit.

In his first encounter as a super-hero he is a total failure: He's beaten, stabbed and hit by a car. The experience has a silver lining, though, as his nerve damage reduces his sensitivity to pain. His big breakthrough comes when he fends off a gang attack on an individual and the whole event is recorded on a cell phone. Dave christens himself Kick-Ass and posts the film on the Net where it goes viral. Furthermore, a really cute girl at school (Katie played by Lyndsy Fonseca) thinks Dave is gay and starts spending time with him.

This part of the film seemed a little tedious to me, but when Dave discovers that Katie is being harassed by an ex-boyfriend, the narrative introduces the much more interesting Hit-Girl and her father Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) who save Kick-Ass from a room full of thugs by slaughtering all of them. The rest of the film becomes a revenge story as we follow Hit-Girl and Big Daddy as they track down and graphically kill the henchmen of crime boss Frank D'Amico (Mark Strong) who had framed Big Daddy for drug possession when he was policeman Damon Macready.

This part of the film moved along nicely and the plot became a bit more coherent. Plus, sure, I love watching a cute little girl in a super-hero outfit mow down the opposition. In any case, who could take this comic action seriously? I actually expected a much worse film than the sort of mediocre, intermittently amusing film that I got. Anyway, it's sort of comforting to know that you can see the same old commercial films in Portland as back home and with the same rude people in attendance.

There is one bonus I get up here, though, when I go to the Regal Fox Tower Theatres downtown: My backpack gets searched. I suppose I do look like a terrorist. Watch out, Hit-Girl. Rated R for strong brutal violence throughout, pervasive language, sexual content, nudity and some drug use -- some involving children. 117 minutes. At the Broadway, Fortuna, the Minor and Mill Creek.

-- Charlie Myers

Continuing

ALICE IN WONDERLAND. Johnny Depp and Tim Burton's very public love affair takes a journey down the rabbit hole. Rated PG. 101m. At the Broadway and Mill Creek.

BOUNTY HUNTER. A professional bounty hunter gets his dream assignment when he is called on to track down his bail-jumping ex-wife. Rated 111m. At the Broadway.

CLASH OF THE TITANS. Release the Kraken! Rated PG-13. 118m. At the Broadway, Mill Creek and Fortuna.

DATE NIGHT. Married couple portrayed by Steve Carrell and Tina Fey are reminded why they live in the suburbs, Rated PG-13. 88m. At Broadway, Fortuna and Mill Creek.

DEATH AT A FUNERAL. Chris Rock and Martin Lawrence mourn their father's deat as wackiness ensues. Rated R. 91m. At the Broadway.

HOT TUB TIME MACHINE. It's a not your average hot tub. ‘Nuff said. Rated R. 99m. At the Broadway, Minor and Mill Creek.

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON. A Viking teenager has trouble fitting in with his tribe until he gets a dragon. Rated PG. 98m. At the Broadway, Mill Creek, Fortuna and the Minor.

THE LAST SONG. Miley Cyrus stars in the Miley Cyrus movie that comes before the Miley Cyrus movie about Orick. Rated PG. 107m. At the Broadway and Mill Creek.

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