The Dickies' "Banana Splits" Theme & Other Reasons to Love Kick-Ass, The Movie & Its Soundtrack

Posted by Billyjam, May 12, 2010 11:10am | Post a Comment

There are many memorable scenes in the wonderful recently released film Kick-Ass, but the two that stick in my mind most are the first big fight scene featuring the young superhero Hit Girl with its kick-ass accompanying music (the "Banana Splits" theme), and the scene in which the wanna-be superheroes Kick Ass and Red Mist are riding in their souped-up super-ride enjoying their fave song on the car's booming sound system ("Crazy").

At surface the latter scene, which comes just past the half-way mark in the 110 minute movie, looks like it is simply regurgitating that well worn Hollywood scenario in which, typically, two or more guys are in their ride singing along at the top of their lungs to that song (the song that makers hope defines the movie). We've seen it in Wayne's World and million other movies since. But in the refreshingly unique Kick Ass this scene is subtly different.

For starters, Red Mist (played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse) is doing something a superhero is never seen doing; he is smoking a joint, and while driving ("A little weed takes the edge off things when I'm on patrol," he assures his abstaining fellow costumed wanna be superhero riding shotgun). And soon after, as Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" starts playing, the two "costumed vigilantes," looking at once ridiculous and hilarious, do a stupid but highly entertaining seat dance, grooving their heads and upper torsos in unison to the 2006 hit.

The power of this scene, like the rest of this comic-book comedy-action flick, is that it lets the viewer in on the joke, and the strength of Kick Ass is how it allows us in on all the shortcomings of its characters. For example, as we follow the Kick Ass character (played by Aaron Johnson) we clearly see that when he is, in all earnestness, patrolling the dangerous streets of New York, he is just a harmless teen in a costume who could get beaten up at any moment. Of course, the only real superhero in this flick is the tween Hit Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz, just 11 when the film was shot), who steals the film.

And in her first no-holds-barred fight scene she destroys all in her path to the perfect soundtrack -- the "Banana Splits" theme by The Dickies. The track is the 1979 A&M Records single from the Cali punk band with a pop sensibility and it appears on the movie soundtrack. Like Hit Girl's true-to-the-original version of Joann Jett's "Bad Reputation," which is the theme of her second big fight scene, the punk version of the "Banana Splits" theme offers the perfect backdrop to Kick-Ass' balance of comedy and gore. Accurately described as "giggles-and-guts entertainment" by one reviewer when the film was first released a few weeks ago, Kick Ass is a kick in the ass for an otherwise tired Hollywood genre.

The Dickies "Banana Splits"

Its tongue-in-cheek, over-the-top and often grotesque violence (like the guy exploding in the giant microwave) is all delivered in a fast-paced, cartoon-ish, and surreal way and is perfectly punctuated by sight gags and witty one-liners. Kick Ass is a refreshing change from so many comic book & action movies and kick-assthe way it simultaneously parodies and pays homage to other films in those genres provides much of the film's entertainment. For example, the movie keeps reminding us (or the copyright holders at DC Comicsl?) that the Nicolas Cage superhero character Big Daddy, who looks awfully like Batman, is not the same famed superhero. "I never said Batman," is uttered by numerous characters throughout and becomes a running gag in the film. It even became a short sound bite track that is found on the soundtrack. And speaking of Nicolas Cage, who is just perfect in his role as the slow-talking troubled genius avenger who trains his daughter Hit Girl to be a flawless killing machine, this film makes up for all the terrible roles he's played in recent years.

Kick-Ass is still playing in theaters and should be out on DVD this summer. In the meantime, pick up the great soundtrack at Amoeba. Along with the Dickies song and the Joan Jett cover, it also includes tracks such as Sparks "This Time Ain't Big Enough For The Both of Us," The Prodigy's "Stand Up" & "Omen," and Ennio Morricone's "Per Qualche Dollaro In Piu." Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" does not appear on the soundtrack, but odds are you already have it in your collection.

The Hit Girls "Bad Reputation"

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Kick-ass (2), The Dickies (1)