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Directed and co-written by Shane Black; based on a novel, "Bodies Are
Where You Find Them" written by Brett Halliday; and starring Robert
Downey Jnr, Val Kilmer and Michelle Monaghan.
A terrific opening credit sequence easily sets up the audacity and chagrin of the film for an appreciative audience. In essence, these are the reasons why you need to see this movie: the razor sharp wit, shockingly fast-paced and hysterical dialogue, pulp-fiction-esquire vibe, its pure cheesiness and the cynicism of a beat up old paperback detective novel.
Got you yet? Alright, maybe an explanation of the seemingly simple plot is warranted. It begins with a ridiculously funny set up resulting in Downey's character being paired up with Kilmer to observe the latter in his job as a private detective. They hook up with a down-on-her luck actress who brings a case for the sleuths. This synopsis constitutes gross misrepresentation on my part as things get remarkably complex. How so? Well, even the lead the character (who also is purposefully pathetic as narrator) takes time out within the movie to remember where he is in telling the story. There are even snippets of dialogue where the characters attempt to fill in the gaps or actually remind themselves of what has happened thus far in the movie.
Downey, Kilmer and Monaghan are all caricatures drawn from popular references of literature, movies and art. All however, are larger than life, exhibit great chemistry and for a movie buff, it is heaven to witness the self referential exercises and hear the narrator shred every narrating convention applicable. Downey's performance is remarkable (neurotic, comic, vulnerable and charming). I have never seen Kilmer in such a well-defined, uproarious piece of work. Monaghan is also integral to the trio and shines exuding a brash, fighting and sexy appeal. She brought back fond memories of early Kathleen Turner and Rene Russo. The fact that her look screams Renee Zellweger, is not a bad thing either.
Black became famous in the 1980s for writing the hit buddy movies: Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout and The Long Kiss Goodnight. As a first time director, he does well keeping the frenetic pace and allowing the audience to catch up only to get lost time and time again. The style is so disarmingly effective, that at times I shook my head in confusion or found my hands against my mouth, agape in shock. I also think that in creating such a brilliant script that Black may have blacklisted himself in Hollywood for mirroring its supposed fame and glamor and exposing its not too pretty side. His one-liners and connected sub-plots are not typical and Kilmer and Downey make magic with their banter and clinical delivery.
All the ingredients of a pulp-noir novella can be found, even employing a structure of chapter-type headings within the movie. Parallel story lines unfold and given plot assumptions are turned over, always with achingly funny results. Even the clichés are clever e.g. a tough guy predictably crashes through a glass table, or body after body turns up, to haunt the characters.
I strongly recommend the movie, given the talent of Downey and Kilmer. Downey should be honored with a Lead Actor Oscar nomination; while Kilmer deserves a Supporting Actor nod. It thrilled me to see them both in their element, as I was on the verge of disavowing them as marquee/box-office draws. The screenplay should also attract Oscar consideration.
One of the year's best films and one of those rare movies where you'll consistently find something new to laugh at, when viewed each of a dozen times.
The term "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang" was first coined in the 1960s by the
Japanese press as a nickname for James Bond. Director Shane Black loved
the term and chose it as the movie's title because, "it so clearly
represented what this film is." And what exactly is this film? Good
question. For starters, it's original. It's a nice change of pace from
all of the sequels and remakes we've been inundated with recently. I
needed this breath of fresh air after being blind-sided by the news
that a remake of Robocop might be on its way.
It's also funny and action-packed. The pace comes at us almost as quickly as the clever dialogue, making it nearly impossible for the average viewer to get bored. You may be offended, you may not appreciate the dark humor, and you may not get the style, but I would predict the majority of you won't get bored. Will I refund your ticket money if you *do* get bored? No, absolutely not. Don't be silly. I'll just say, "Oh well, I guess you're just in the minority on this one!" What I like most about Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang is it's so hard to "genre-lize." See what I did there? Add that term to the Movie Mark Dictionary. When you can't "genre-lize" something then you can't easily force it into any one specific genre. Clever, huh? That's what makes Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang so fun. Is there action? Yes! After all, it's by the same guy who wrote the Lethal Weapon movies. But it's not an action movie.
Is there humor? Indeed. The laughs mostly come from the chemistry between Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr. and some of the crazy situations they find themselves in. This is my kind of dark humor. I love to be caught off guard by unexpected moments that make me laugh at things that might not be so funny if they were witnessed in the real world. But this isn't a comedy. The humor is never forced and doesn't have to resort to slapstick or flatulent puppies just to get cheap laughs. Sure, there's a scene that involves peeing on a corpse, but it has to be seen in its context to be appreciated.
If I were forced to affix a label to this then I suppose I'd say it's a darkly comedic murder mystery. It takes itself just seriously enough to keep you in suspense, but it's irreverent enough to simply be fun and entertaining. It works well enough as a farce without ever coming off as a pure parody.
My main complaint is that the story does get a little too confusing. I admit that I openly mocked other reviews that called the story "needlessly complex," but now that I have seen it I totally understand what these reviews are talking about. You'll want to pay careful attention or you'll get lost pretty quickly. I'd even suggest taking notes. If you're not careful you'll become so immersed with keeping up with the rapid-fire dialogue that you could lose focus on the plot details. It's not mind-blowing, but there are just so many characters and minutiae to keep up with that it's easy to lose track of what exactly is going on. If your friends call you "ol' goldfish attention span" then you could be in trouble.
I'm not going to lie to you and tell you that this movie is for everybody. The language gets pretty rough, there is strong sexual content, Val Kilmer is a detective who just happens to be gay and jokes are made at his expense, there's a decent amount of gunplay, and some people just might not appreciate the unconventionality on display.
But I loved the fact that this wasn't formulaic and that the look and style was different than the norm. Black admits to de-saturating the colors in post-production to give the film a crude, rough look. Perhaps some might like their movies a little more bright, but I thought it was quite effective at giving the film the pulp detective story vibe that Black was going for.
I wouldn't recommend this to my mother, so I won't pretend to know whether this fits *your* taste either. It all depends on how you view these kinds of things. Is it gratuitous or knowingly over-the-top? Clever or too clever for its own good? Cheesy or comfortable in its self-awareness? Ask yourself what it takes to offend your senses and let that be your guide.
I saw this movie at the 2005 Toronto Film Festival and expected it to be the typical film noir genre. This seemed to be the case for the first couple of minutes of narrative monologue before the jokes started coming fast and furious. This turned out to be a highly entertaining comedy/buddy film couched in a tongue in cheek film noir setting. The dialogue was witty and the chemistry between Robert Downey Jr and Val Kilmour was great. Some of the jokes went by so fast that I'll have to see this movie again to see what I missed as I was still laughing at the previous one. The director spoke before the movie and commented on how the producers were nervous about the risky choice of actors. This was a reference to Robert Downey Jr.'s past addiction problems, but this film proved that he was worth the risk. I saw 10 films at this year's film festival and this one was my favorite.
KKBB was shown at the Fantasy Filmfest in Germany. This festival for
horror, sci-fi and thrillers is touring Germany in several big cities.
KKBB was the opening movie in Cologne and it got a feverish applause
I can only say that this movie is one of the biggest surprises in the Action/Thriller/Comedy-Genre in the last years. If you liked Black's scripts for Last Boy Scout, Long Kiss Goodnight, Lethal Weapon etc. for their tongue in cheek humor, wicked dialogues and sick ideas, you're gonna love this movie.
The cast delivers and gets the movie going. I don't want to spoil it for you, but Black still has some very cool one-liners and dialogue. Downey Jr is really amazing in this role as your typical looser-criminal kind of guy.
The film struggles a bit at the end, but it was so much fun to watch nonetheless. The Teaser Trailer came out today, so you might want to watch that. Luckily doesn't already show you the best parts.
I really hope that this movie attracts a big audience, because Black has definitely written and directed a highly entertaining movie, showing you Hollywood behind the scenes. Watch this movie!
Without a doubt I thought that this was truly entertaining film. I only
managed to catch it at my local cinema in a one off showing, but I
really wasn't disappointed.
Me and my friend went in the film not truly understanding what to expect. Basically it cracks down to Robert Downey Jr. starting the film off as a burglar, after being shot at he accidentally runs into an acting audition. Breaking down with tears in the office, he accidentally gets the acting job and whisked off to Hollywood with hopes of playing a detective in an upcoming film.
Cue Gay Perry a.k.a Val Kilmer who is fantastic in this film with his dry wit and humour adding some hilarious scenes to this film. He plays a gay detective assigned to help train up Robert Downey Jr. The pair of them get sucked into a story starting with discovery of a corpse and building into deeper plot involving kidnapping and murder. The plot line is genuinely well crafted, and is explored in the perfect amount of depth. It is quite simply littered with many funny moments. Probably the favourite of mine being the running joke of the gay detective through the film, involving the 'faggot' gun. Shane Black directs this film superbly, keeping it alive with sharp wit.
The whole cast clicks together perfectly with Robert Downey Jr and Val Kilmer shining with good support coming from Michelle Monaghan. The film is accompanied by a very light hearted narration from Robert Downey Jr. which makes the film that even bit more engaging.
Overall, a quirky, very amusing film, with a superb cast, and with a run time of 99 minutes, you simply can't afford to miss it.
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang... A solid 10/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is like a wildly expensive hooker who looks like
she's worth millions yet is actually worth a hell of a lot less, but
when the ride is so damn good you just can't complain and you'll be
telling all your friends. Put another way, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang has a
certain something which the murder mystery genre tends to lack - a
sense of fun. So much so, that I was crying with laughter!
After an incredibly stylish opening credits sequence, we discover that Harry Lockheart (Downey Jr.) is our narrator and also a criminal. After breaking into a toy store to get his nephew a Christmas present, the alarm brings the attention of the police. Harry escapes only to stumble into a film audition. He miraculously gets the part and is immediately whisked off to LA to receive detective lessons for his role from private detective 'Gay' Perry Van Shrike (Kilmer). While at a party, Harry meets struggling actress and childhood friend Harmony Faith Lane (Monaghan) and stupidly explains that he is a private detective. However, it's not long before Harmony soon asks for his help when her sister is found dead.
All the trademarks of a cheap pulp murder mystery novel are here - deaths (obviously), sex, trashy clubs, a beautiful blonde who ought to be advertising shampoo, wrapped up corpses, crazy clues and more twists than a pole dancer on cocaine. Can you believe it; the film even predictably has a bad guy fall through a glass table. Ooh, how exciting! What makes this stand out is the genius that is writer Shane Black, responsible for Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout and The Long Kiss Goodnight. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang makes for Black's directorial debut and he must have a PhD in wit (a word a lot of critics will be using when describing this).
Robert Downey Jr. looks rough and downright cool as Harry Lockheart, the quintessential loser hero whom the young male audience will aspire to be. Harry is a good-hearted criminal (they do exist) who stumbles amidst the superficial gloss of Hollywood movie making and the murders taking place in LA. You can't help but root for him as he constantly tries to stay alive and make sense of the crazy scenario he's landed himself. This is a role that's likely to push Downey's career into overdrive, making him the next best thing... again... for the third time. Just like classic film noir, Harry also narrates the story, but what makes this all the more comical is that unlike the overused hard-boiled detective, who gives the audience a dark and moody voice-over, Harry can't even narrate properly!
That Val Kilmer makes for one tough homosexual, a welcome change of stereotype. Delivering a memorable performance as 'Gay' Perry, Kilmer is at his best when doing just about anything with Downey. Every one of their conversations raises a smile if not a laugh. With the right material, as seen here, he can handle humorous roles and this would certainly rank as one of his funniest. Michelle Monaghan is seductively charming as Harmony Faith Lane (which is what every parent ought to name their daughter). Coincidentally playing an up and coming actress, she'll definitely be catapulted into more work after this, since that's usually what happens to up and coming actresses who undress in a mainstream film. She manages to hold her own amongst the male leads mainly due to her character's nature to go out of her way for just about anything, thinking little about the consequences.
Not only does the film show us Black's love for the trashy detective novels and the murder mysteries of film noir, but his love and hate relationship with movies is also apparent. Taking the usual workings of what goes into the makings of a film, Black adds a new spin and manipulates these formulaic conventions such as narration, flashbacks, extras and credits. Can you say "post-modern" boys and girls? Movie buffs are likely to get a kick out of these 'self-aware' moments.
The film works as a showcase for Black to present his razor sharp wit during a number of absurdly thrilling and comic set pieces, each one clinging onto what is essentially a routine murder story as dense as the American government during a natural disaster. Unfortunately the fast pace leaves you with little time to piece all the clues together as the film skims over plot details. So much so that the lead characters have to do some obligatory explanations just to hook in anyone who is completely lost.
The brilliantly written characters and scenarios is what keeps one watching, but if a little more hot loving was given to the frequent twists and findings that occur then this could have pushed itself further as an eccentric little masterpiece. Still, where else will you come across the sight of Robert Downey Jr. hanging above a freeway by grabbing onto a corpse's hand sticking out of a coffin, which is somehow miraculously suspended in mid-air... only in a Shane Black film ladies and gentlemen!
Neat touches such as Perry's mobile phone ringtone, Downey making a sly remark about his past narcotics habit and a 'too-clever-for-its-own-damn-good' closing scene (which does look like it's been tacked on at the last minute) simply adds further icing on the already overly sweet cake.
The film treats you with its diverse absurdity and Shane Black's creativity of snowballing situations pumped with his remarkable talent for outlandish one-liners. Its fusing of a killer script and cool characters makes Kiss Kiss Bang Bang this year's Hot Ticket and one of those rare examples as to why I go to the cinema.
The immensely likable novel "Bodies are where you find them", written
by Brett Halliday, has been adapted for the screen by Shane Black and
the result is one of the funniest movies playing around. "Kiss Kiss
Bang Bang" boasts an amazing dialog with some of the wittiest lines of
any film in recent memory.
The film pays a tremendous bonus to fans of the genre, which combines a detective story technique with some amusement and irony thrown in. The result is a fun time at the movies. Mr. Halliday pays tribute to those forgotten cheap pulp fiction novels that were so popular at one time in this country.
The director has to be congratulated for combining the talents of two actors that pay off in unexpected ways. Robert Downey Jr., one of the best film actors, is paired in this movie with Val Kilmer, who tends to play heavy roles, but has never been seen as he is shown in the movie. Both these men compliment one another in ways we didn't expect. The chemistry between them seems to indicate these two actors had a lot of fun while making the film, as it shows in the way they play against one another.
Lovely Michelle Monaghan is seen as Harmony, a beautiful young hopeful working her way up in Hollywood. Also in the cast Corbin Bernsen, who is seen as Harlan Dexter. Larry Miller has a few brief moments in the picture.
"Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" is a witty and intelligent film. Thanks to its director, Shane Black, it's a film to be treasured.
I saw a special screening of the movie yesterday and I thought it was going to be so boring, but I was entirely wrong! It was very funny and well written. It was a refreshing take on screenplays and acting and its great to see Robert Downey Jr. back again. Val Kilmer's role as Gay Perry was also spectacular. Michelle Monaghan looks like she can be Liv Tyler's little sister but with more substance (sorry Liv Tyler fans) I loved the sarcasm and humorous one-liners used throughout the movie. The constant reference to real life actors and movies gave it an almost "real life" feel. I recommend this movie for a good laugh and great narration by Downey, Jr.
I didn't expect much from this at all, but it turned out pretty good.
Think of a Raymond Chandler murder mystery, updated to a sort of modern
and enormously... self-aware buddy film-noir. Yes, a buddy-movie,
film-noir, murder mystery, crime-thriller, all rolled into one hip
modern self-referential update, packed with amusing references to all
the clichés of the genres depicted. Before you can even think about the
next cliché in the film, it grabs it, makes a mockery of it and
proceeds at break-neck pace.
Petty thief Harry Lockhardt (Downey) is a lovable loser who accidentally winds up in the movie business, auditioning for the part of a private detective. Val Kilmer plays the real private eye, Perry Shrike (half the fun is picking the right name!) who has to learn him the trades of the business, but soon they both wind up in a murder mystery with so many twists and turns (and bodies), it'll make your head spin.
Downey and Kilmer seem to have the time of their lives, but not to the viewer's expense. Perhaps a bit too clever for it's own good with so many "clever" plot turns, that I was lost in the end, but perhaps I'm not as clever as I wish to. And I must say, Michelle Monaghan! Wow! She really gave one sexy performance! It derails a bit in the end and goes so wildly over the top with shaggy-dog jokes, ridiculously stupid bad guys and buddy-clichés, it makes Austin Powers look like a straight-faced classic. But as a whole very entertaining, with snappy dialogue, clever writing, and enjoyable performances. Just lots of fun.
Camera Obscura --- 8/10
A lucky mistake shifts out-of-luck criminal Harry Lockhart (Robert
Downey Jr) from the gritty streets to glossy showbiz in L.A, landing
him a part in an upcoming film. Another mistake then shifts him from
actor to private detective, and this is where Val Kilmer comes in and
things start to go wrong, more wrong and unbelievably wrong until
they've snowballed into an enjoyable detective mess -- all to impress
failed actress Harmony (Next big thing: Michelle Monaghan).
Shane Black's directorial debut 'Kiss Kiss Bang Bang' is a comic film noir. Even in the dazzling opening credits using a montage of contrasts of red, black and white, it is evident that this is no run-of-the-mill crime story, but a viciously entertaining ride from scene 01. What makes it so special is that it mixes equal doses of humour and crime like a $15,000,000 blender, pouring out a balanced end product and glazing it with a clever narrative coating by Robert Downey Jr. Black also sprinkles some rapid-fire dialogue onto his product, which is facilitated by the comedic chemistry between Downey and Kilmer. Some of the lines, gags and images are truly laugh-out-loud worthy. Everything else is nice, but forgettable.
Its only problem, as far as I can see it, is its paper-thin plot. It does not seem believable; it is complex, dizzying and not nearly as involving as it would like to be. So back to formula on that one, and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang would be a near-perfect comedy-thriller.
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