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Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

September 22, 2010

8/10 Idiots Defined

It’s a mess of everything and it all freakin’ rocks.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is about a small-time crook who accidentally lands an acting gig while running from the cops, gets sent out to a swank party in L.A. where all the girls named Jill spell it “Jylle”, and starts shadowing a movie producer/private eye in preparation for his role while trying to get in the pants of “the one that got away”. So one thing leads to another, they wind up witnessing a girl’s murder, the High School sweetheart’s sister ends up being involved, and our trio of wannabe gumshoes have to get to the bottom of it all before they find themselves six feet under in the City of Angels.

The first time I saw this way back when, I was a dumbass. One of those days where I thought I could effectively multitask surfing the web while giving my full, undivided attention to the movie playing in the background. Maybe you can relate and I don’t know why I kept thinking time and time again that this would actually work, but since I couldn’t remember a damn thing by the time it was over, I finally revisited it five years later, stayed the hell away from my MacBook and totally redeemed myself as a human being.

So it’s film noir, it’s a dark comedy, it’s an action movie, it’s a love story, and as far as storytelling is concerned, it’s pretty damn original. It’s awfully refreshing to find a script where you can tell the writers are having as much fun as the cast and from the moment Robert Downey Jr. starts narrating the story to us knowing full well that we’re watching the movie he’s in by stopping scenes mid-frame to make sure we didn’t miss something obvious/give himself shit for being a bad narrator, it’s hard not to smile. At the same time, it can almost be a bit much when he keeps on rambling and backtracking the way Downey just loves to do, but as soon as something starts to border on being annoying, it stops and introduces something else that’s totally fresh and totally welcome. Nice to see a movie that knows when to say “when” and save the best stuff for later. Can’t be an easy thing to do as a writer.

But aside from being a breath of fresh air and more or less succeeding in all the areas that turned Lucky Number Slevin into the cinematic equivalent of listening to a five-year-old argue with an English professor for two hours, it’s flat-out fucking hilarious. It’s the best thing to happen to gay jokes since The 40-Year-Old Virgin (and I hate gay jokes), there’s more brilliant one-liners in here than you’ll know what to do with in just one sitting, and you couldn’t ask for two better leads to bring it all this mean-spirited greatness to life. Seriously, there’s a kind of brilliance to how self-aware it is and all the middle fingers it throws up to almighty L.A. where every part goes to Colin Farrell, where everyone under the sun goes to “make it big” and where everyone at every bar looks like a celebrity impersonator. It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s so unabashedly tongue-in-cheek that it gets harder and harder to notice the flaws.

And Downey’s a rip as our unlikely hero, Harry Lockhart. Harry’s interesting enough, but the reason he stands out is because it’s just Downey playing Downey and there’s really no one else out there who has that same kind of charisma. Again, there are times towards the start where he could probably afford to tone it down a bit, but that borderline nuts/mile-a-minute persona of his sure is some kind of entertaining.

But the strangest thing of all is that Downey somehow ends up playing second fiddle to Val Kilmer of all people. I don’t really know what people think of Val outside of his cool name, the heist scene in Heat and how tempting it would be to yell “Iceman!” and reach for a reverse high-five if you saw him in person, but I’m actually not the guy’s biggest fan since it seems like he burns most of his potential on crap movies that I sure as hell don’t want to burn two hours on. But here he is as Harry’s mentor, Gay Perry (yes, he’s gay, and that’s what he goes by), and I’m starting to think that I have no idea what I’m talking about. He’s perfect, he delivers all his brutally sarcastic asshole comments like he really means them and every time he turns back up in Harry’s life, the whole product just gets better. Gay Perry not only has one of the best names of any character from the past decade, but he might be the best thing this movie has going for it aside from the script and it’s easily the best thing I’ve seen Kilmer do in a long time. Dude needs to do more comedies because this definitely makes up for The Saint.

Michelle Monaghan ain’t bad either as the object of Harry’s affection, Harmony, but she’s got some tough company to keep up with.

So the final showdown is a little ridiculous, the plot’s harder to follow than it probably should be and there are some lulls inbetween that noticeably break up the good stuff, but, man, this is right up there with Lethal Weapon as the best thing writer/director Shane Black’s ever done. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is just a really fun and surprisingly new movie with a razor sharp script that goes by in a flash and had me scaring my cat from laughing so hard. Can’t remember the last time I nearly busted a gut watching a guy lose a game of Russian roulette, but there ya’ go, that kinda sums it all up in a nutshell.

19 Comments leave one →
  1. September 22, 2010 12:15 am

    The finger in the door scene is one of the most absurdly dark and hilarious moments I’ve ever seen in a movie. It just happens….

    • September 22, 2010 10:13 am

      Hahaha. Great scene, but I’m still laughing to myself about the whole Russian roulette bit where RJD thinks there was an 8% chance of the bullet being in the chamber and Gay Perry just yells at him, “EIGHT PERCENT?! WHO TAUGHT YOU MATH?!” Freakin’ hilarious.

  2. September 22, 2010 1:47 am

    I love this film, it never fails to cheer me up. So many great quotes in it, too.

  3. September 22, 2010 7:34 am

    …I’m also a fan of that finger in the door moment…cringe-worthy but oh so funny.

    Nice review Aiden. I thought Kiss Kiss was a smart, funny neo-noir with two of the best characters/performances of the year.

    • September 22, 2010 10:16 am

      Totally agree, man. Been a while since I had so much fun hanging out with two characters.

  4. Moose permalink
    September 22, 2010 9:10 am

    Love this movie. Him narrating it like an idiot and admitting it was hilarious. And Val hasn’t been this funny since “Top Secret”.

    • September 22, 2010 10:08 am

      Never even heard of Top Secret, but now I have to see it if it’s anywhere close to Gay Perry.

      • September 22, 2010 12:32 pm

        aw, dude, you gotta watch Top Secret! If you like Airplane, you’ll love it.

      • September 23, 2010 3:46 pm

        haha. just found it on Netflix instant, will definitely check it out.

  5. September 22, 2010 9:20 am

    Yea, this film is a blast to watch. It’s messy, and rough around the edges and the ending is a bit much but it’s one of those films like “The A-Team” that isn’t afraid to be ridiculous and it knows that and it’s what makes the film work so well. That and RDJ being so damn charismatic.

    • September 22, 2010 10:07 am

      Good comparison to A-Team, man. Definitely has that same “let’s have some fun with this bitch” vibe going for it. Good stuff.

  6. September 22, 2010 9:29 am

    Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is definitely a fun watch.

    Oh yes I do that too, surf the web and watch a movie at the same time. Well its mostly for movies that just happen to air on tv, that I’m not particular interested in…but still curious how it is.

    • September 22, 2010 10:06 am

      I just had to stop doing it cold turkey at a certain point. Same reason I need to watch The Host again. DAMN YOU, AIDEN!

  7. September 22, 2010 10:02 am

    I went it to see this just for the cast, and the delivered! It’s such a hoot, but then what do you expect with RDJ AND Kilmer… um, I happen to like The Saint actually. It’s not a GREAT film, but it’s pretty enjoyable. Maybe I just have a soft spot for Val 😀

    • September 22, 2010 10:05 am

      hahaha. The Saint was unfortunately one of the first movies I remember seeing at a young age that I really didn’t like and felt kinda bad afterwards for dragging my mom to. Still, you’re not the first person to defend it, so I’ll probably give it another watch one of these days.

  8. September 27, 2010 3:51 am

    this is one fun movie. i should rewatch it sometime.

  9. October 2, 2010 4:35 pm

    RDJ is masterful at the dialogue that feels unstructured and all over the place and yet has this amazing beat and humor to it – I mean, you have to seriously wonder at how much he improvised in this movie. This is one of my favorite films E.V.E.R because the script is so fantastic. Yeah, I agree about the ending (stretching it) and the plot (muddled at times), but my Nolan-on-a-stick, it’s utter brilliant parts completely outshine whatever miniscule flaws there might have been.

    I so agree about Val Kilmer. I can honestly say this movie totally made me reevaluate him as an actor and made me feel like, damn, don’t be too quick to judge because you never know what you could be missing out on.

    Oh, and every scene is, well, as said, sheer genius, but the one that always, always cracks me up is the “I peed on it” one. That dialogue is one of the best pieces of cinematic dialogue in the history of cinematic dialogue. Humbly put forth by me, of course. RDJ’s utter shock at the corpse being stuffed in the shower and Kilmer’s reaction to what he has done is priceless.

    Thanks for a great site, btw. Just discovered it and believe I will become a frequent visitor. Giving you fair warning. Oh, I’m not a crazy stalker person come to make your life a living hell or anything.

    Or am I?


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