Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Written and directed by Shane Black, based on a novel by Brett Halliday
Warner Brothers Pictures, 2005
This movie was such a good time. Just a good time from beginning to end. Not one of those movies where you're so bored that you're noticing that the guy's house has the exact same
pattern on the couch as your friend's house did in third grade. This movie moves along and takes you with it; it's funny but a little sad and it gives you credit for having half a brain, which these days is not something you see often. (I mean, thanks, A History of Violence
, for showing us TWO different road signs that say Philadelphia
, as if we might think the guy was going to Tucson
or something. Jesus.)
Anyway, the story is partly based on the novel Bodies Are Where You Find Them by Brett Halliday and is kind of a twist on your basic private eye pulp novel. There are some metafictional elements, like the narration ("I'm Harry, I'll be your narrator") and the chapter headings which are supposedly taken from the titles of Raymond Chandler stories. It's not exactly a spoof on private-eye movies, it's more of a commentary on them in the way that Kill Bill simultaneously celebrates kung fu movies and pokes fun at their conventions.
I'd somehow expected something more arty and self-consciously stylish, with dramatic lighting and people lurking in doorways, but this really is a dark comedy with serious moments rather than a drama with some jokes.
Maybe you forgot, but Val Kilmer is really, really funny. I remembered this because my brother and I watched Real Genius (1985! can you believe it?) about 875 times growing up, but if you look at the IMDB, that was the last (intentionally) funny movie he made until now.
In fact, he only made one other comedy, Top Secret, and that was actually before Real Genius. Wait, maybe he was in that Top Gun parody movie with Charlie Sheen? No, that was Cary Elwes, making fun of Kilmer in the actual Top Gun. So clearly he's been busy being Madmartigan and Batman and Jim Morrison and The Saint and some crazy dude in the jungle with Marlon Brando, with varying results, but he didn't find the time to be in another comedy till now? I mean, I know he has the reputation of being a pretentious asshole, but he is so clearly having fun in this movie. Like he picked up the script from the pile one morning and was like, HELL yes! Gay Perry is me and I am him!
And then there's Robert Downey, Jr., who has been my secret boyfriend for, like, ever, even though my family is all, don't you know he's a drug addict? as if we were actually going to get together in real life, and between times in rehab or jail comes out and fucking blows everyone away with his awesomeness, even on Ally McBeal (work of the DEVIL, y'all). So as you might expect, he makes it look like no one else could have even been considered for the part, like quite possibly he himself was discovered by accidentally walking into a casting office while running away from the police when robbing a toy store.
The only thing I didn't love about the movie was Michelle Monaghan as The Girl; she was pretty, but sort of bland and dull. Then again, she was supposed to be trying to make it as an actress in Hollywood so maybe that's what she was going for.
In conclusion, go see this movie. It probably won't be in theaters much longer, but I don't think it would suffer from watching at home. This was Shane Black's first film as a director (after writing Lethal Weapon, The Last Action Hero, and The Long Kiss Goodnight) and he certainly makes me want to see what else he can do.
Robert Downey Jr. .... Harry Lockhart
Val Kilmer .... Gay Perry
Michelle Monaghan .... Harmony Faith Lane
Corbin Bernsen .... Harlan Dexter
Dash Mihok .... Mr. Frying Pan
(Can I just tell you how much I love Dash Mihok? Ever since he was on that very short-lived sitcom Pearl
with Rhea Perlman
, Malcolm McDowell
, Carol Kane
, and Lucy Liu
(I know, showbiz is a very strange place). He always plays these bit parts and basically is just there to make me happy. And he has this very cool name.)
Larry Miller .... Dabney Shaw
Rockmond Dunbar .... Mr. Fire
Shannyn Sossamon .... Pink Hair Girl
Angela Lindvall .... Flicka
(Okay, yes, there is a My Friend Flicka
joke. There had to be.)
Indio Falconer Downey .... Harry Age 9
(Robert Downey, Jr.'s real-life son, how cute.)