Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
DVD + HD DVD
• IMPORTANT NOTICE: This two-sided HD DVD combo disc will only play in high definition with an HD DVD player. It will play in standard definition with a DVD player or Blu-ray player.
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In Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, a breezy take on writer-director Shane Black's trademark buddy action/comedy oeuvre, a petty thief (Robert Downey Jr.) is brought to Los Angeles for an unlikely audition and finds himself in the middle of a murder investigation, along with his high school dream girl (Michelle Monaghan) and a detective (Val Kilmer) who has been training him for his upcoming role.
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Kiss Kiss Bang Bang ticks every box. I definitely recommend it.
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.