Mike Fleming

Jim Carrey‘s shocking refusal to promote Kick-Ass 2 might 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. Carrey’s Colonel character is all over that trailer and his performance looks bizarre and funny. Additionally, attention to Carrey’s Twitter was at or near the top of Twitter trending following his Kick-Ass 2 post. “He probably did more to raise awareness for this movie by refusing to promote it than if he’d done a round of talk shows,” said a knowledgeable observer. Despite this, I feel the need to call bullshit on his moralistic stance, the idea he cannot support Kick-Ass 2 because he can’t condone its violence in the wake of the massacre of children in Newtown, CT by a deranged kid who killed his mother and used her arsenal of legally obtained semi-automatic weapons to perpetrate a horrifying murder spree. I’ve been a big Jim Carrey fan since even before a new superstar comedy career was born with Ace Ventura, Pet Detective. But I think he’s flat-out wrong here, and short-sighted.

You might recall that Carrey unexpectedly sought out this sequel because he was such a big fan of the original. He even wore the Kick-Ass costume in this duet with Conan O’Brien. That film he liked so much was just as cartoon violent as this sequel. Carrey has not only turned his back on his cohorts, he completely blows an opportunity to use this movie as a platform to discuss his opinions on: the availability of guns; an NRA lobby that has so co-opted federal lawmakers that that they would not in the wake of Newtown enact measures to simply require better background checks in gun sales; the depiction of gun violence in movies (The New York Times astutely notes that nearly every star in every summer movie poster is holding a gun); and how this toxic stew leaves the country just waiting for the next massacre by a troubled person with easy access to semi-automatic weapons.

Kick-Ass 2 is a movie that Universal almost wasn’t sure it was going to make, but then its execs and Matthew Vaughn sparked to a script by Jeff Wadlow and gave that guy a career opportunity by hiring him to direct it. In the pantheon of sequels, this one is an underdog story that needs all the help it can get in the summer marketplace. I hope Carrey rethinks his position. The short film he made for Funnyordie.com on Charlton Heston and gun violence was biting and provoked heated reaction. I’m not sure what he thinks he is accomplishing by essentially taking the equivalent of an Alan Smithee and ditching Kick-Ass 2, but he doesn’t come off well here. Rather than the high moral ground he seeks, Carrey seems like a star who cashed a big check to act in and promote a film, and then turned his back on the second part of that bargain. And he didn’t tell the studio what he was thinking; Universal execs read it like everyone else after he posted it on Twitter. Will studios be reluctant to hire him for fear he’ll find reason to blow them off too? Carrey’s stance won’t save a future massacre victim, but he has the chance to fuel discussion that can keep the hot button issue of gun violence in the public eye, which could be a good thing.

Here is that Kick-Ass 2 trailer again, and note that most of the violence is perpetrated with fists, blunt objects and sharp-toothed dogs: