Written and Directed
by Shane Black
Running Time: 1:42
for language, violence and sexuality/nudity.
Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang was a very entertaining, if somewhat convoluted, film which featured a darkly comical script and strong performances from the leads.
Harry is a criminal who accidentally ends up at an audition for the role of, a criminal. The producers fall in love with him and fly him out to L.A. where he is supposed to learn at the feet of the top private investigator in the area, one Gay Perry. Harry also runs into Harmony, a girl he once loved back when they were children. They all immediately become embroiled in a murder mystery when the daughter of a famous actor is found dead. Other people start to fall dead around them and no one can figure out what's going on. Soon Harry, Harmony and Perry all become targets and they have to fight, sometimes each other, to stay alive and get to the bottom of the crime.
As I said earlier, the plot of Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang gets a little dense with one layer getting added upon the previous layer until you're feeling somewhat suffocated. That being said, I thought the movie succeeds because it's different than most movies out there. It's a buddy comedy but also a throwback to film noirs of the past. It also isn't afraid to go places that others won't, such as urinating on a dead body for comic effect. I mean really, when does that happen in a non-pornographic film? And even then it's not for comedic purposes. Not that I'd have any idea, I've just heard. Anyway, moving on... The movie is narrated by Robert Downey Jr. and it plays out like someone is showing a home movie, complete with Downey talking to the audience and stopping and rewinding scenes to remind you of things. It's a nice touch that some might not appreciate because it breaks down that wall between film and audience, but it's the kind of quirk that I tend to enjoy. It also has that dark comedy feel that I enjoy when, like I said, you can get laughs from pissing on a dead body in the shower and watching a guy get his finger cut off and eventually eaten. Sure it's gross, but in context, pretty darn funny. Downey was arguably the best person I could think of for the role of Harry because just from listening to his voice you can't take him seriously, and the character never does either. Since he's narrating in flashback, the character knows he'll end up OK so everything he says is said with an air of indifference.
Let me take this moment to discuss the business of moviegoing. Once again I was able to see this film through a film class I'm taking, so while I did pay a (large) amount of money to take the class for eight weeks, I didn't specifically pay for the film. I'm also lucky enough to not have to pay for a majority of the movies I see. That being said, when you go to the movies, the theater itself can play a large role in how much you enjoy or dislike a film. If you pay good money to go see a film, you expect things to be reasonably nice. If there's something talking throughout, or someone kicking your chair, or someone tall sits in front of you, it can ruin a movie. If the theater is too hot or too cold, it can be annoying because all you keep thinking about is how hot/cold it is. In my case, the air conditioning wasn't turned on and everyone was sweating and while I liked the movie, I'm afraid I didn't pay as much attention to it as I should have because of the theater. I think that's why more and more people are renting DVDs. At home you can set up your home theater (or TV and DVD player in my case) the way you like it, you can eat or drink whatever you want without paying out the nose for it, and you can start and stop the movie as you please. On top of that, with the quality of DVDs and TVs these days, it's almost like being in your own personal movie theater. My point is, sometimes when you read people's opinions on films, take them with a grain of salt because sometimes there are outside forces that can alter perceptions. And yes, I wrote all that because my theater was too warm.
Back to the movie. I also thought Val Kilmer had one of his better roles to date, playing the gay detective. He and Downey worked well as a team and you could sort of believe Kilmer was gay. Heck he may be for all I know. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I wonder how long a shelf life the line 'not that there's anything wrong with that' has before it gets old. We get to see recognizable faces like Larry Miller, Corbin Bersen and an almost unrecognizable Shannyn Sossamon as the Pink Haired Girl. I thought she was an up and coming actress. I wonder what made her take a small role with a non-named character? Hmm. Anyway, Michelle Monaghan was solid as the lead 'girl' in the movie. Every buddy comedy needs at least one woman in it. Sometimes she's just eye candy, but in this case Monaghan was also actively involved in the action. So not only do you get to see her naked, you get to see her chasing down criminals and shooting people. What more could you ask for really? Speaking of action, while nothing is brand new in the film, what action there was, was pretty entertaining. A car chase or two, people flying off overpasses, cars flying into lakes, people getting shot. There were times the movie got slow, but there are also very few movies that don't take a break from the action. At least when this movie slowed down, you still had Robert Downey Jr. to be the smart alec voice of reason, with or without his finger. I guess what it really comes down to is, if you like Downey, you'll like the movie. If you don't like him, don't bother seeing it.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I liked Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. I thought it was fairly funny, had good action sequences, a reasonable if overly dense plot, and some wonderful performances from the leading trio. Make no mistake though, this is a Robert Downey Jr. film, and your opinion of him will affect your opinion of the film. That and whether or not your theater is too warm.
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