The XX Factor

Little Girl Kicks Ass, Drops the C-Word


I like foul-mouthed kids as much as the next person. (Who doesn’t get a warm, happy feeling when a toddler drops the F-bomb?) But I’m preparing to cringe at Kick-Ass , the much-hyped superhero splatter-fest that opens this Friday. Kick-Ass is about a bunch of ordinary folks who transform themselves into costumed vigilantes. Chloë Grace Moretz-who was 11 when she got the role-plays Hit Girl, a preteen assassin with a mouth like a sailor. As this profile by the New York Times ’ Dave Itzkoff notes, people went nuts last summer when the red-band trailer for the film showed Moeretz flinging the f-word and the c-word (the c-word!) along with a bunch of knives. It’s a role that’s sure to launch a thousand op-eds: Should children be allowed to star in hyperviolent films and spew filthy language? Are we allowed to enjoy it if they are? Is this kind of casting exploitative, or are you a chump if you see it that way?

Everything depends on execution, of course, so I’ll withhold judgement until I see the film. But I’m leery of Moretz, having found her performance in (500) Days of Summer to be the most grating part of an almost uniformly grating film. Her appearance in the red-band trailer doesn’t offer me much hope: I’m not offended by the swearing so much as unconvinced by the delivery. (Which brings up another question: Should there be limits on what you can say about a child actor’s performance? How much razzing are you allowed to levy on an 11-year-old?)

For his part, the director, Matthew Vaughn, points out that chiding the film for Moretz’s cursing misses the forest for the trees:

Mr. Vaughn said this kind of condemnation was hypocritical because it attacked the movie’s language while essentially forgiving its violence. “I was like, ‘Does it not bother you that she killed about 53 people in this film?’” he said. “I’m like, ‘Would you rather your daughter swore, or became a masked vigilante killer?’ They’re going, ‘Yeah, I don’t know.’”