Jim Carrey announced on Twitter Sunday that he suddenly could not "support" the marketing push for his new film Kick-Ass 2 because of the violence contained within and his apparent emotional turnaround since the Newtown shootings. But Kick-Ass lives for controversy, so Carrey's much discussed blowing-off of his own mini-blockbuster is, more or less, only adding to the studio's marketing pitch. Seriously: Were you talking about the feistiness of this movie before he spoke out?
The Hollywood Reporter's Pamela McClintock reports from CineEurope that Universal Pictures International's Simon Hewlett is selling the film as "irreverent, dark and often offensive." Though facing foreign exhibitors Tuesday, Hewlett did not make mention of Carrey's comments, but his tone said enough: Yes, this movie will piss you off. It will even piss our stars off.
Carrey, a gun control advocate, comes from a well-intentioned place. He wrote that he "did Kickass a month b4 Sandy Hook and now in all good conscience I cannot support that level of violence." He added: "I meant to say my apologies to others involve with the film. I am not ashamed of it but recent events have caused a change in my heart."
Mark Millar, the author behind the Kick-Ass comic books, posted a long response the same day. "Like Jim, I'm horrified by real-life violence (even though I'm Scottish), but Kick-Ass 2 isn't a documentary," he wrote. "No actors were harmed in the making of this production! This is fiction and like Tarantino and Peckinpah, Scorcese and Eastwood, John Boorman, Oliver Stone and Chan-Wook Park, Kick-Ass avoids the usual bloodless body-count of most big summer pictures and focuses instead of the CONSEQUENCES of violence, whether it's the ramifications for friends and family or, as we saw in the first movie, Kick-Ass spending six months in hospital after his first street altercation." Carrey's character, Colonel Stars and Stripes, he added, is a Born-Again Christian who refuses to fire a gun.
Carrey is only highlighting what Millar wants to sell. Back in May 2012 Millar boasted to Digital Spy how the sequel would recreate the most controversial scenes from his book: "Every horrible scene in the book will be in the film. The c**t line in the first one, everybody said 'there's no way you're getting that in the movie', but it happened and it's the same thing with this. Everybody is saying 'you can't have a gang rape scene with supervillains' and 'you can't have the dog's head cut off', but every single one of those scenes will go in it." And the first Kick-Ass movie had its own share of scandal, mostly surrounding Chloë Grace Moretz's portrayal of Hit Girl. Moretz was 11 when she filmed the movie in which she curses (she's the one who says that c-word) and fights. Carrey loved that first film, dressing up like the main character, Kick-Ass, to perform alongside Conan O'Brien.
As Mike Fleming Jr. points out at Deadline, Carrey's disavowal is "might [be] the greatest possible favor he could have done for that movie in the short term. Right after Carrey made his pronouncement on Twitter, the volume of young potential ticket buyers who clicked on the trailer experienced an EKG-level spike between Sunday and yesterday." But Fleming thinks that Carrey's decision "blows an opportunity to use this movie as a platform" to discuss his opinions on any number of issues, including gun control. Not only that, but Fleming added he looks like a movie star who took his money and ran, claiming superiority. (Many commentators have wondered why Carrey's not donating his salary for his debut in the franchise.) But while Fox News quoted a publicist who said Carrey's commentary is "is likely to hurt the film," it seems that what Carrey is doing falls right on the Kick-Ass message. Universal doesn't even need to mention him by name.