"Kiss Kiss Bang Bang"
Directed by Shane Black.
Written by Shane Black. Based in part on a novel by
Starring Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer, Michelle Monaghan and
Release Year: 2005
Review Date: 11/17/05
Shane Black, the man who wrote the "Lethal
Weapon" scripts a lifetime ago, is back in his first directorial
effort, and much like his previous flicks "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" is a
great mix of comedy and the occasional shootout that just misses
greatness but is still a fun ride nevertheless.
It starts with oddball casting to match the
film's oddball script (also written by Black). Petty thief
Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey Jr.) is somehow matched up with
Hollywood detective/consultant "Gay" Perry (Val Kilmer) as the two
investigate a murder/suicide, a former actor (Corbin Bernsen) that
may have something to do with it, and a plot to take out Gay
himself. With the help of Harry's childhood friend Harmony
Faith Lane (Michelle Monaghan), Gay and Harry get into all kinds of
trouble in search of the truth. Along the way, we get dead
bodies, a severed digit, some unnecessary crotch torture and lots of
...and a lot of laughs. "Kiss Kiss
Bang Bang" gets a lot of mileage out of its intentionally-convoluted
storyline (if that makes any sense) because in trying to complicate
what seemed like a fairly straightforward case, Lockhart (who also
narrates) has the chance to be goofy, confused and utterly useless
throughout this movie as he tries to help real cop Perry (gay as
springtime) solve the case. It helps that Downey's manic
energy matches well against the straitlaced character that Kilmer is
playing. Black drops a lot of little asides on the audience,
be it Harry's anger at L.A., his witticisms regarding Harry's past,
or the darker comedic elements surrounding Harry's continuous
glimpses of murder most foul.
The acting by the two leads is great; Black
gets good support from his leading woman as Monaghan is a perfect
foil for Harry's incessant chatterbox by being a chatterbox of her
own. Featuring a slick-looking L.A. by night, Black also
gets points for a cool-looking production set in Hollywood's
backyard. It's mostly the script that I had issue with, at
least as the film wears along; it's almost too cute at times and by
the end, it reminded me just a tad of Charlie Kaufman's scripts ("Eternal
"Adaptation") in its incessant need to exhibit writer
intelligence by poking around at other Hollywoodisms; another random
bit I didn't need was a drawn-out ending, and then to remind us that
it's going long, we get to hear Harry mention "don't worry, we won't
have like 17 endings like that last 'Lord of the Rings' film
did"...and then, we get two more endings. Maybe this is my
hatred of narration in general, but still...get on with it!
Otherwise, "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" is good
stuff. Check it out before it heads home to DVD.
Rating: $9.50 Show
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Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard