Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang
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Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (DVD) (WS)
From producer Joel Silver and screenwriter Shane Black, both of Lethal Weapon fame, comes an action-comedy spoof of rough-and-tumble buddy films--Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. A private detective (Val Kilmer - Alexander), a thief posing as a struggling actor (Robert Downey Jr. - Gothika) and an actual struggling actress (Michelle Monaghan - The Bourne Supremacy) become entangled in a murder mystery filled with twists, turns, betrayal and, most importantly, romance.]]>
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Top customer reviews
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.
Shane Black (famed for his screenplays on the Lethal Weapon series) makes his directing debut and comes up with an unmitigated winner. In this lively, darkly funny feature, Black successfully integrates slick production values with a witty, tangled, self-referential script and smoking performances from his actors. At the same time, Black turns topsy-turvy several conventions in the action buddy genre to which he himself has amply contributed.
The actors are very good here; one could sense the fun they were having. The three leads have combustible chemistry. Val Kilmer endows Gay Perry with a perfect balance of machismo, intelligence and world-weary air. And wicked, deadpan sarcasm. I haven't seen Michelle Monaghan before but she is a revelation as Harmony Faith Lane. Harmony is decidedly smart, is delightfully down to earth, and has had life experience. Yet, she retains a modicum of adolescent innocence. It's pretty obvious why Harry's jonesing for her. Hopefully, we see more of the sexy Michele in future films. But it is Robert Downey, Jr. who shines the most. His charisma is still intact, his wry, droll acting skills still very much present for us to savor. He's still very, very likable. I had fun listening to his dry, teasing narrative voice-over, which he delivers in a laid-back, natural fashion. I think Downey, Jr. is an actor I'll always root for. Two words: sequel, please.
The Special Features section could have had more goodies. But what it does have is pretty sweet: A funny film commentary by Shane Black, Robert Downey, Jr. and Val Kilmer; an outtake reel; and a theatrical trailer.