122 of 135 people found the following review helpful
Harry's a burglar in New York who, to escape arrest, winds up auditioning for a part in a Joel Silver like film that's destined for Colin Farrell. He's whisked away to the phony world of LA, where every girl named "Jill" spells it "Jylle." At a fabulous cocktail party he meets Harlan Dexter, once a B-movie actor and now a very rich enterpreneur whose daughter has only recently returned from a long sojourn to Paris. Harry also meets his high school sweetheart, a girl who never gave him a toss back then, but now she's seeing him with new eyes. The two of them share an appreciation for the pulp novels of the 1950s and 1960s featuring a Mike Hammer type PI called "Jonny Gossamer."
KISS KISS BANG BANG is a lot of fun. Walking into the theater you don't expect such a rambunctious, talky, endlessly yakking movie. You have to be on your toes, narratologically speaking, the entire time, and don't try leaing your seat to use the restroom, you'll have missed probably the entire point of the movie. Does even Shane Black know the story he's written, and why the three women who meet their maker got so confused that neither the police, the detectives, nor the gang that killed them seem to be able to piece them apart, like the old shell game.
The movie is stunning to look at besides. The credits are impeccable; we've seen numerous movie credits designed to resemble the old time look of the Bond films, but this one, in rusty shades of orange and black, is stylish and exciting. In general the designers of the movie deserve awards. The use of the hotel Standard is brilliant
Downey Jr and Kilmer are both pretty entertaining, but the excitement here is the performance of Michelle Monaghan as Harmony Faith Lane (a name that, oddly enough, strings together the names of two of Buffy's betes noires).
As Harmony Miss Monaghan, a Denise Richards lookalike, shows a talent that can stand right up next to the fast talking dames of the thirties like Rosalind Russell or Carole Lombard, and plus she has a genuine American beauty tht makes it believable she could come from somewhere central, like Indiana. You root for her to succeed, even when she shows the more disagreeable sides to her personality.
I can imagine some people disliking the movie and its constant air of being in love with itself, and yet when the dust is cleared we are always searching for an American cinema with wit and flair, and here it is in this giant, heaping portion, and you would be a fool to turn away such bounty on account of its presumption. I hope it does well enough to merit numerous sequels, as THE THIN MAN did. It's on that level if you ask my opinion.
PS, what happened to Shannyn Sossamon? Seems like just yesterday she was Hollywood's it girl, enjoying leading lady parts in such films as A KNIGHT'S TALE or THE RULES OF ATTRACTION. Here she plays, get this, "Pink Hair Girl"? Are they trying to punish her for being beautiful and talented, or what?
50 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on November 12, 2005
Robert Downey Jr. has not been as quick-witted and riotously funny since he played in Chaplin. He and Val Kilmer turn out to be a comedy team as good as those in Mel Brooks' early movies. There are scenes that cause uproarious laughter in the theater. Like when Downey sticks his severed finger into the ice bucket and the dog eats it. Or when Kilmer's cell phone plays "I will survive" when it rings. Michelle Monaghan plays Downey's old childhood friend, Harmony. They meet again in L.A. and team up with Kilmer to solve a murder. The trio charm the audience and keeps the laughter at a high volume. And finally, Downey's asides to the audience in his role as Narator are hilarious. From stopping the film to explain something, to changing the typical noir ending by bringing back all the dead characters plus Elvis and Abe Lincoln. It was two hours of razor-sharp dialogue and brilliant comedy. Don't miss this one.
32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on February 2, 2006
Once you realize this movie isn't a porno, it's actually pretty good. Yeah, I was disappointed at first, but instead of hunting down the red light district I actually decided to stay. Besides, porn is accessible 24/7, but a movie this funny only comes around once in a while.
The plot revolves around Harry Lockhart played by Robert Downey Jr., a petty thief turned aspiring actor who soon finds himself in the midst of an old fashioned film noir plot. Val Kilmer plays Gay Perry, a private detective who is hired to show Harry the ropes for his potential new role. When someone from Harry's past shows...actually, the plot is really just a MacGuffin for the two actors to spout off clever lines at one another, and the movie itself seems keenly aware of this. In fact, Robert Downey's character narrates the film complete with fourth wall shattering comments (such as referencing the audiences in Times Square). His narration could have come off as annoying, but thanks to the strong script and funny delivery it works perfectly.
The entire film is really just an excuse for these two actors to play off of each other, and they do a fantastic job. Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr. can be two of the most frustrating actors. Sometimes they can seem so self-conscious that it's painful, and other times they can turn in a role that singlehandedly makes the movie (Val Kilmer in Tombstone for example). Here they're at the top of their game. They play off of each other perfectly. If you like smart sardonic humour, then you'll like this movie.
It's so difficult these days to find a good comedy that this movie felt refreshing. It feels like it has been over a decade since I've actually laughed out loud in a movie theatre. Most comedies are run by the Will Ferrell rule of comedy: if you yell it's automatically funnier. It's nice to know that someone out there thinks that a clever script can be funny too. (This is not a complete knock to Will Ferrell--he can be funny in the right role).
The qualities of this film don't stop at the humor. There's also some great send-up of film noir. For a noir fan like myself, this was merely icing on the cake. Not only does the film pay tribute to old fashion noir, but takes an opportunity to subvert it whenever it gets the chance. Film noir cliches are raised so they can be turned on their head.
Hopefully this film will get the audience it deserves when it comes out on DVD. It's easily one of the years funniest movies, and it's not even a straight up comedy.
56 of 63 people found the following review helpful
on November 11, 2005
"Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" is so full of energy and forward propulsion that it often trips over its own frenzied notions and plot machinations. This is screenwriter ("Lethal Weapon") Shane Black's first film as director and he is very keen on making the most of this opportunity: the 3rd wall is smashed and cleared away, the story is told both in flash backs and in flash forwards and Robert Downey Jr. as Harry Lockhart narrates in deadpan fashion that manages to be extremely witty and droll on the one hand and banal and silly at others.
"KKBB" opens with an explosion of activity in which Harry a petty thief, while in the process of a robbery and running from the police, accidentally bursts into a room in which actors are being auditioned for a movie dealing with private eyes. He is thrust into service as an auditionee and is asked to screen test...moving closer to actually nabbing the movie role. And so it goes: one incredible and often hilarious plot twist after another.
Downey, always a charming performer and who may be a bit too old for this part, in that he is supposed to be the same age as the smart, funny and adorable Michelle Monaghan who plays his childhood friend, Harmony Faith Lane...a great name, by-the-way. But be that as it may, the interplay between Monaghan and Downey as well as that with Val Kilmer as Gay Perry, a gay P.I. (I kid you not) is priceless: all are operating on the very highest level of their performing careers.
Not every thing works in "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" but at least Black, by way of his throw in everything but the kitchen-sink style of directing, exhibits the cojones to play with the conventions of the detective story/thriller movie and make it work...most of the time: you must often risk the ridiculous in order to achieve the sublime is a lesson that Black has seemed to have learned very well.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Harry Lockhart is a petty thief who has a turn of good luck when he's running from the police and enters an audition for a movie. The cops don't find him and he's shipped to LA to screen test for a role. Along the way he encounters Gay Perry, a consultant who is supposed to help Harry get into character for his role as a private investigator. In preparation for the role, they unwittingly become involved in a real LA murder mystery involving Harmony, a struggling actress from Harry's past.
This film was very funny and wasn't afraid to make fun of itself by using stereotypical Hollywood cliches. In fact, one of the funnier things about it was the storyline revolving around how fake and ridiculous life in Hollywood is. Good examples: A woman who comes up to Harry and says, "I do a little acting" is then shown to be the type of actress in late night Cinemax movies, or when a catty girl says Harry is checking him out he notes that they must have taken America by the East coast and shaken it, only the normal girls stayed and the others rolled down to LA.
Overall this movie was funny and full of self-deprecating humor. Val Kilmer's role as Perry was the highlight for me, as he was understatedly amusing in his supporting part. The murder mystery takes a backseat to the comedy in this worthwhile film and I would definitely recommend it to a friend.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
I don't know, how do you not love a movie that includes lines like this one, about women in Los Angeles:
"I swear to God, it's like somebody took America by the East Coast, and shook it, and all the normal girls managed to hang on."
And that's what Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is like: Relentlessly clever dialogue, witty screenplay, extremely self-aware without crossing the line into being eye-glazing about it.
Essentially an update of a second-tier LA-based noir film, the film moves so quickly and is so funny that many audiences may not catch that they're watching a film that could have once starred Alan Ladd or Humphrey Bogart. There's the beaten-to-a-pulp detective in over his head, the rich movers and shakers who can crush him at will, the dream girl who's alternately sexually available and loathes him, dead bodies that get moved around, seemingly on their own and lots more standard bits.
Toss in Robert Downey, Jr. doing his best work in years, Val Kilmer, funny again for the first time in decades and the new-to-me-but-ought-to-be-a-star Michelle Monaghan, and you've got a solid, solid cast capable of making the clever script pop. Heck, there's even some footage from a truly awful 1980s Corbin Bernsen action movie, which isn't something you see every day.
It's hard to figure how this got overlooked in theaters, but no fans of buddy movies (the film is written and directed by the creator of the first -- and vastly superior to the sequels -- Lethal Weapon movie), Downey or Kilmer should miss this.
Sensationally great fun.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on March 23, 2007
On average I have probably watched 3 movies a day for every day I have been alive, and this is by far the most hilarious film I have EVER seen. It is action packed, sexy, and funny - Val Kilmer is at his best.
I literally fell off of my couch laughing at one point, something I did not think I was capable of.
To top it off, it is one of the best mystery who-done-it plots I have seen. The script is entertainingly witty. I could not look away, if I laughed too loudly I would rewind it just to see what I might have missed...
Do not pass this one up!
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 2006
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Truly, from day one of marketing this movie, through its theatrical release, and now DVD release - nothing normal is done. It wasn't hyped up. It didn't last long in the theatres. It also took forever to reach DVD in a time when it seems like some DVDs are released a month or so after leaving the theatres. Even the additional bizarreness of having it air on Pay Per View before the DVD came out (as opposed to airing 2 months after the DVD), adds to the quirkiness.
Maybe it's because the movie itself is so unexpectedly quirky from beginning to end, full of characters your gut tells you aren't that likable, but nonetheless you like them. They grow on you quickly from a botched burglary to an accidentally spectacular movie audition, all in the first 5 minutes.
So goes the rest of the movie at a breakneck speed, with the occasional rewind as the narrating burglar, Downey, berating himself for failing to tell an important point of the story. The gist of the story is this: Harry (Downey) is flown out to Los Angeles to supposedly begin research for his inadvertantly won role, tutored by a gay private detective (Val Kilmer) who works part time for the studios. There Harry meets, Harmony, the girl he grew up with, precariously perched on the edge of a small town girl gone wrong in her running away to Hollywood. From that point on begins the impossibly fast downhill roll of murder, plots, confusion, love, and so on.
The thing that makes this formulaic sounding idea completely different in its spit in the wind take on cliches. Kilmer's detective, known as Gay Perry, is not a gay stereotype. When Harry wakes up the morning after meeting his old girlfriend, the girl in his bed isn't her, it's her obnoxious friend. All seemingly good plans go wrong, both by the criminal element and the quasi-good guy Harry, et al. Just as you think you're getting a handle on what's going on, it takes another twisting turn. The ending isn't picture perfect, though some characters lives have improved, they aren't exactly where they wanted to be.
The acting is spectacular, particularly Downey. You cannot watch this movie and be unimpressed by his craft. Kilmer is solid and restrained, making his character believably gay yet masculine. You believe his Hollywood nickname of Gay Perry as more than a play on words; it might just be to remind everybody that his character IS gay and it's a non-issue for the most part. The supporting characters all have perfect dark comedic timing. It's one great big slap at all the overdone cliches, some of which were developed by the Lethal Weapon movies that writer and director Shane Black made. It takes a brave director to take whacks at himself.
All in all, a terrifically dark humored movie with no delusions of grandeur. Plus there are little 'in' jokes, such as Indio Downey, Robert Downey's look-alike son playing young Harry. Or an old clip of Corbin Bernson pre-L.A. Law used to identify his present time character with the convoluted past of Harmony and a movie shoot in their hometown when she was young. Most subtle was Harry having a rather nasty injury requiring him to be prescribed a heavy duty painkiller... and the character of Harry slurringly stating that he was fine, just a little woozy, and would be completely okay after two more pills.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 2005
I just had a blast watching "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang".
Robert Downey Jr is so funny as the actor who pretends to be detective. And Val Kilmer is perfect as Gay Perry. I think its the best role he has ever done.
These two actors made the perfect team !
The Screenplay and writing are fast paced, and comical. The writers know just when to really go over the top. Some of the scenes made me laugh harder than I have at any movie in a long time.
Very rarely do I enjoy dark humor. And very rarely do I see a movie twice. But I enjoyed this film so much, I am thinking of going back and seeing it again. It was that funny.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on May 25, 2006
This movie was exhilarating. It sometimes seems to me that most of the action and street level films coming out lately move so slowly that they fall apart trying to attain "gritty realism" or swing the other way to achieve blockbuster status by eschewing chunks of plot or dialog for more explosions and baddie clad extras to swell body counts. Against that backdrop this film makes for a true diamond in the rough treasure.
The story, such as it is, corkscrews through Hollywood, made almost realistic by the surreal backdrop of insane behaviors that are attached to glitter-town. A cast of characters quirky enough to fit in, or even make a scene, is dropped into the pot along with a few dead bodies, a mental institution, a big bad rich-`n-powerful king-pin type, and a slew of gun-toting mercenaries. Now take that lovely hornets nest and Shake Well. However, the way everything fits together (I'm not even going to TRY to explain the plot) is a sideline to the film's real attraction.
THE REAL ATTRACTION: This movie comes from the same pen that scripted our favorite action movies during their golden age (think Die Hard and Lethal Weapon). A marvelous wash of insane happenstances, surprising behaviors, never-say-die swashbuckling, and absolutely-positively-indubitably PERFECT one-liners rule this film like a peyote riding panoply of chaos gods. This movie is FUN. I busted a gut for hours from the dark humor laid side-by-side with the best wisecracks and low shots I've heard from any film in years.
Whatever faults this movie has (I'm sure others will describe those in detail), this is a Really, Really FUN movie. Check it out.