Here's a bad idea: Collect an ensemble of youthful actors, dress them up as self-proclaimed superheroes (plus the odd masked evildoer) and let them have at each other in bout after bout of gang-style rumbling. Here's an even worse idea: Rinse and repeat.
That pretty much sums up the nasty formula behind the gory, vulgar action-and-comedy sequel "Kick-Ass 2" (Universal). This unwanted extension of the mayhem-ridden franchise reunites trained teen assassin Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) with nebbish-turned-costumed-vigilante Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and pits them against Chris D'Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), the exultantly evil son of the last outing's primary villain.
Once known as Red Mist, D'Amico adopts a sobriquet for this adventure that's too filthy to print. In keeping with his nickname, and with the general tenor of the proceedings, his new alter ego's outfit is made up of assorted fetish wear.
Jim Carrey is a new arrival in the guise of Sal Bertolini, aka Col. Stars and Stripes -- a former mob enforcer whose born-again conversion to Christianity has him dressed in camouflage and fighting on the side of the angels. He leads a team of would-be crusaders for justice that includes the parents of an abducted child (Monica Dolan and Steven Mackintosh) and a lifelong victim of anti-gay bullying (Robert Emms).
Yet another of the colonel's followers, a ballet teacher by day who dubs her crime-fighting persona Night Bitch (Lindy Booth), has eyes for Kick-Ass. So, in a touchingly romantic interlude, the two decamp to the nearest bathroom stall and commence groping.
Despite dialogue ostensibly exploring the nature of heroism and the morality of do-it-yourself law enforcement, writer-director Jeff Wadlow's follow-up -- adapted, like its predecessor, from Mark Millar and John S. Romita Jr.'s series of comic books -- is really about cashing in on the same combination of over-the-top battling and below-the-belt humor that marked the 2010 original.
The film contains excessive bloody violence, nongraphic nonmarital sexual activity, upper female nudity, much off-color humor, a frivolous view of homosexuality, several uses of profanity and relentless rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is O -- morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.