Saturday, 3 April 2010

Tookey gets his ass kicked for kicking Kick-Ass' ass

To the surprise of no-one, Mail film reviewer Chris Tookey has produced a scathing 'review' of Kick-Ass.

He gives it one-star (rather than his worst rating, a turkey) because it is:

sporadically funny, efficient, and well shot.

But he goes on to say:

it's lightweight and silly, but it's also cynical, premeditated and mindbogglingly irresponsible.


The reason the movie is sick, as well as thick, is that it breaks one of the last cinematic taboos by making the most violent, foul-mouthed and sexually aggressive character, Hit-Girl, an 11-year-old.

Avoiding any mention of the film's plot, he goes on to explain - at great length - why he believes it's a paedophile's dream, even mentioning:

Worldwide child pornography is a multi-billion dollar industry.

And that's partly the fault of this film that hasn't even come out yet, apparently.

He says of Hit-Girl:

she makes comments unprintable in a family newspaper, that reveal a sexual knowledge hugely inappropriate to her years.

Some might find the description of the Mail as a 'family newspaper' more offensive that anything in this film, but is the Mail as coy as he thinks? Err, no:

Indeed, when the Mail started getting 'outraged' by Kick-Ass on 28 February, they explained exactly what she says:

In one scene, the young serial killer – played by 13-year-old American actress Chloe Moretz – screams at her victims: ‘Okay, you ****s, let’s see what you can do now.’

In another, she tells her vigilante father she wants a puppy for her birthday. When he looks surprised, she says: ‘I’m just f****** with you, Daddy’, and asks for a razor-sharp knife instead.

And they repeated those quotes on 18 March, 24 March (twice) and on 31 March as well.

That's how unprintable they are.

Tookey is also appalled by what he believes is the sexualisation of Hit-Girl:

The movie's writers want us to see Hit-Girl not only as cool, but also sexy...Paedophiles are going to adore her.

One of the film's creepiest aspects is that she's made to look as seductive as possible...She's fetishised in precisely the same way as Angelina Jolie in the Lara Croft movies, and Halle Berry in Catwoman.

As if that isn't exploitative enough, she's also shown in a classic schoolgirl pose, in a short plaid-skirt with her hair in bunches, but carrying a big gun.

Classic school girl pose, with plaid skirt and big gun? Where have we seen that before?

Ah yes, on the Mail website on 28 February. And 18 March. And 24 March.

How can Tookey possibly continue to work for a media outlet which indulges in such 'exploitative' behaviour?

Oh and then there's this:

Yes, that's Tookey's own website, where all his film reviews are collected. Just look at that vile 'exploitative' picture of a 'schoolgirl...with her hair in bunches...carrying a big gun' he's used to illustrate his Kick-Ass review.

The hypocrite.

He goes on to refer to the:

grotesque glorification of prematurely sexualised...children

Several of the people who have commented on Tookey's review on the Mail website, who have seen the film, say it does no such thing (indeed, all but around 5 of the 62 comments are attacking Tookey's useless review). Frankly, it would be hard to imagine the BBFC giving the film a certificate at all, let alone a 15, if it did.

But if Tookey is so concerned about 'prematurely sexualised children' he should have another word with his employers. In the 'Don't Miss' section to the right of his review is yet another 'story' (meaning: pap pics with words attached) about Suri Cruise. Or, as the Mail describes her, a three-year-old in a 'super-cute' outfit:

The article begins:

In mini heels and grown-up clothes, she often seems a little older than her inconsiderable years.

And one of the picture captions, refers to her:

coy expressions.

That's on top of calling her, as the Daily Quail pointed out, 'precocious', 'cuddly', 'traffic stopping', 'cute' and 'impeccable'.

Then there was the description of an 11-year-old Katy Perry as 'pretty' with an 'innocent smile'.

Not to mention the Mail saying of the 'sweet' 15-year-old Angelina Jolie:

even at the age of 15, it was clear Angelina Jolie had star potential. With her bee-stung lips and sultry brown eyes...

And what about the time the Mail ran a picture of a 14-year-old girl's bum, so readers could judge if her trousers were too tight?

Tookey, with no small amount of egotism, goes on to cliam he is the only film reviewer brave enough to take this film on:

they'll get an easy ride from the vast majority of reviewers, who either don't care about the social effects of movies or are frightened to appear 'moralistic' or 'judgmental'.

It's a bit baffling to say a film critic is afraid of being 'judgmental' - surely that's in the job decription? But it's a good job we have Tookey to show us the way, then...

Or not, given this ludicrous, and breathtakingly crass, statement:

Do we really want to live, for instance, in a culture when the torture and killing of a James Bulger or Damilola Taylor is re-enacted by child actors for laughs?

Err, whoever said we did?


  1. Tookey is a joke. What is surprising is how he has survived so long when everyone in the film industry regards him as someone to wind up. His reviews are appalling and pompous; his judgement atrocious, his pronouncements laughable. Suits the Daily Mail to the ground.

  2. He also says the plot is a rip-off of Spider-man 2, which left me wondering what film I watched when I bought tickets for Kick-Ass.

  3. That's a very odd stance to take, especially as Hit Girl isn't sexualised in the slightest... I'd be genuinely concerned about anyone who thought that was the way the character was meant to be portrayed.

    It's also worth noting that on Tookey's own website review of Leon - a film which deliberately plays on the sexualisation and moral corruption of a teenage assassin - he has no problem with it...

    Same for Beautiful Girls which has a moral issue about finding pubescent girls attractive as a major storyline. And the same for Happiness where he sympathises with paedophiles.

    And so on...

  4. Funnily enough, I got a text from a friend yesterday asking whether I wanted to go see Kick-Ass and I was undecided until I read Tookey's review. I am at a loss as to how he could possibly see Chloe Moretz's character as being portrayed in a sexual manner. A girl in a not even remotely tight leather jacket a paedophile's dream? Really? And as for being dressed like a schoolgirl, she IS a schoolgirl for god's sakes.

  5. Saw the film today, and if Tookey thinks Hit Girl is sexualised, it says way more about him than it does about the film. Seriously. I cannot imagine how anyone would describe the character as sexually aggressive.

    She's also not 11 years old. One character says she looks like she's about eleven years old, but in the end we see her enrol at a high school, walking past a sign welcoming new 9th graders. That would put her at around 14.

    Still, imagining that she's supposed to look seductive is very, very creepy.

  6. I wonder if he believes anything he writes - did he exist as a film critic before he had to filter every single word to suit his employers and their hysterical view of the world?


  7. In all fairness, one can see the crasser sort of thug teenager adopting Hit Girl as a pin-up role model as they have done to various tedious gangsta types. However, it still doesn't alter the fact that Tookey is talking outright shite here. Sexualised? Just piss right off.

  8. Off topic, but there was a classic piece of Mail-ese Beeb bashing today...

    The front page includes a picture of the new Doctor Who girl, Karen Gillan, and the headline:

    'Doctor Who's new girl 'too sexy'.

    The article inside has quotes from fans on messageboards. Well, two, to be precise.

    One is:

    "'They've completely demeaned Doctor Who by replacing good episode stories with slutty girls.' "

    So I googled it...

    It brings up this:

    Scroll down, 'un-hide' a comment at the bottom and you find:

    "They've completely demeaned Doctor Who by replacing good episode stories with slutty girls. Ew, I hope Karen Gillan gets killed off, ugly mother fhucker."

    Nice, eh? Wonder why they missed out the second part.

    The other quote they used...

    "'Why did she dress up as a tarty policewoman? Surely that's not fitting for a family show.' "

    Well check out this post from DigitalSpy, dated 17/12/09.

    "Amy Pond - Do we know why she's dressed as a tarty policwoman??

    Any Idea?

    Im guessing she's not an actual policewoman??

    I did think strippogram but surely thats not fitting for a family show...

    so, any ideas?? "

    In the bigger scheme of things, it's probably not that important.

    But it highlights their quality journalism and exhaustive research.

  9. "In one scene, the young serial killer – played by 13-year-old American actress Chloe Moretz – screams at her victims: ‘Okay, you ****s, let’s see what you can do now."

    Except she doesn't - she whispers it. Do these people actually bother to watch films before commenting on them?

  10. I agree with Tookey and would go further in saying we should ban all films that have children in them just in case peadeophiles watch them!

  11. Tookey's insistence of there being some sexualisation of this character smacks more of his own projections rather then a real world observation.... ew.

  12. I don't read Tookey very often, but in the past I've found his reviews very good. I suspect the Mail had an agenda about this film way before Tookey saw it and he had to fall in line with how it was interpreted by previous articles in the newspaper.

  13. thinking a girl in school uniform is sexy says more about tookey than anything else. it's a school uniform. obviously we have sexy schoolgirl connotations, but what else is a school girl meant to wear to school?

  14. Kick Ass Movie is really promising this year. I really like the adaptation of this comic book. Really like this movie :D

  15. I’m afraid it is physically impossible for me to engage in one-on-one debate with all my internet critics. There are simply too many of them. You will, however, find a detailed defence of my position viv-a-vis Kick-Ass, on my website at

  16. Mr Tookey,

    It's nice that you've taken time to answer the (largely justified) criticisms of your original review, but I feel I ought to take you to task.

    The subtext of child abuse of which you refer is indeed there- I won't deny it. However, the fact that we're discussing a movie that is effectively set in a fantasy land to my mind lends far less credence to that stand point. We're talking about an adaptation of a comic book here- do you criticise Superman's ability to fly as nothing more than an undertone of LSD abuse? No, because it would be foolish to do so.

    In effect, you've drawn upon 23 years worth of movie reviewing and the resultant cod psychology that comes with it, and used a reviewing hammer to crack a movie walnut. Kick Ass is fluff- damned entertaining fluff at that.

    As for the sexualisation of Hit Girl, while I understand your perspective, you couldn't be much further from the truth. An 11 year old girl killing older men is about as far from sexualised as one could get. Her costume as hit girl is relatively loose fitting leather, with a skirt to highlight the fact that she is indeed a girl. It is not revealing in the slightest. As someone else has pointed out here, when she is dressed as a schoolgirl, that's because she actually *IS* a school aged girl, and as such is dressed appropriately. That she pulls out a gun didn't suggest any phallic overtones to me in the slightest. All it told me was that the fictional character had a desire to despatch the villains in the quickest possible manner- which was, of course, a gun.

    The bazooka reference, far from being yet another phallic symbol, was merely comic relief. The goon needed to shoot the assailant, but had no more suitable weapon than the massively overpowered rocket launcher. I don't wish to jump on the bandwagon of people telling you that you need to seek help, but I would certainly suggest that you have read far more into this movie than is necessary. It's a throwaway movie that does what it's meant to. It is nothing more than bubblegum for the mind, as they say.

    With all that said, however, it is worth pointing out that I don't believe I have ever once agreed with one of your reviews, in the 15 years I've been perusing the Daily Mail. In fact, I would hazard the opinion that you are writing for the benefit of your employers more so than the readership you advise.

    Not that you'll read this, of course...

  17. Since comments are closed over at this review's page, I have to sound off somewhere... I just finished watching Kick Ass, and I must say, if ANYONE finds Hit Girl sexy, it is not the films fault. They really need to get their own head checked and take a good long look in the mirror, because no thought like that crossed my mind. Scary: Hell yes. Sexy: No.

  18. There is no indication within any of the films or comic books that Superman is taking LSD and that his flying abilities are purely a deluded fantasy. It is made clear, however, in both the Kick-Ass movie and the comic strip it is based upon, that Hit Girl is a victim of child abuse, and that Big Daddy is responsible. To suggestion that child abuse is less important if it takes place in a “fantasy land” is a totally spurious argument.

    As for the assertion that Kick Ass is "fluff," I'd like to point out that in the original comic book, Big Daddy is a deluded psychopath whose obsession with comic books allows him to split the world into good guys and bad guys, and commit horrible acts of violence. The story he gives about being an ex-cop out to avenge himself on the mob for his wife's murder is a complete fabrication, and the real reason why he's turned his daughter into a killer is because he wanted her to be "special". This element is lost in the film version, which gives us instead a story about how a wronged ex-cop seeks vigilante style violence against a bunch of cartoon villains, which I think is a serious mistake as it is now effectively saying that Big Daddy is justified in his behaviour, a message diametrically opposite to the one given by the original comic book story.

    On the subject of whether Hit Girl is sexualised, I'd agree with the posters who say that this is false. When Hit Girl first appears she is terrifying. The smiles he give to Kick Ass as he slashes and stabs people to death, literally chills you, and the later scene of her killing a man in a car crushing machine is equally horrible. I am sure there are people out there who find Hit Girl erotic, but then there are also people out there who fall in love with step-ladders. If you're going to ban Kick-Ass because some twisted nutter might be turned on by her, then you're also going to have to ban The Wizard of Oz, Little House on the Prairie, The Jungle Book etc.

    In regard to the schoolgirl scene, any pedophilic undertones are subverted by the knowledge that Hit Girl isn't a schoolgirl, she is a child who has been trained to kill, and who enjoys her work. The insertion of the gun muzzle into the doorman's mouth has a sexual connotation, although whether this is meant to be a comment on the doorman's real intentions towards her is somewhat unclear, either way, Hit Girl's motives are not in doubt, as she is there to exact revenge on everyone she finds in the building.

    As for the bazooka reference, it's both a phallic symbol and comic relief. One of the gangsters makes a joking reference earlier to his sister having “grown a dick,” Frank D'Amico, the head gangster, also states that the attacks on his organisation makes them all look like a bunch of “pussies," so the association between dicks and guns is an obvious one to make. Consequently, the appearance of the bazooka can be seen as a symbolic attempt by the gangsters to show that they have the bigger dicks, and the fact that Kick Ass rescues Hit Girl by killing Frank D'Amico with the bazooka is basically telling the audience that Kick Ass has now grown a bigger dick than all the others put together, making him the hero (in the original comic strip, Kick Ass shoots the head gangster in the groin).

    Finally, in regards to Chris Tookey's review of Kick-Ass, I think it's way off target, and probably designed to cater to your average prurient minded Daily Mail reader, however, I think it's also wrong to suggest that Kick-Ass is nothing more than “bubblegum for the mind.” The message of the original Kick-Ass comic strip is that certain mainstream American comic books peddle a dangerous ultra right-wing message that splits the world into black and white and confuses justice with vengeance (hence the reference to Steve Ditko). The Kick-Ass movie, however, ditches this entirely, leaving an even more extreme version of the Steve Ditko worldview in its place.


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