A petty thief posing as an actor 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 and a detective who's been training him for his upcoming role...Written by
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.
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