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4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
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"Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang" was originally the name of a 1966 Italian movie, "Bacia e spara," the noted film critic Pauline Kael used for her second collection of film reviews in the 1960s. Kael had seen a poster for the movie in Italy and considered it to be a reduction of the basic appeal of the movies to its simplest terms, sex and violence, a reality of which she despaired. Director Shane Black, working in part from Brett Halliday's novel, "Bodies Are Where You Find Them," tries to provide a bit more than sex and violence in this 2005 film, but more importantly he has fun with the sex and violence.

Black wrote most of the "Lethal Weapons" pictures as well as "The Last Action Hero," although my personal favorite (and the only one I have on the shelf) was "The Long Kiss Goodnight" (Hey, "chefs do that"). His central character and narrator is Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey, Jr.), who we meet at a Hollywood party. This necessitates explaining how he ended up at the party where he met a girl, Harmony Faith Lane (Michelle Monaghan), which then requires Harry to backtrack and explain how she ended up at the party, as well as the story about the robot. Harry is not exactly up to speed on what is required of a decent narrator, but you should be paying attention to what he shows you if not to what he says, because things will matter down the road. Off the cuff references to the properties of Silly Putty turn out to be foreshadowing, and if Black does that with minor points you can expect the larger ones to pop up that way as well.

In addition to the girl, Harry meets up with (saw it slow and elongate the last syllable) Gay Perry (Val Kilmer), a private eye who is supposed to provide Harry with private eye lessons on the off chance he ends up playing on in a movie, which gets us back to why Harry is in Hollywood, not to mention the party. Then Harry stumbles upon what will be the first of several dead bodies and the next thing we know Harry is pretending to be a detective in order to impress the girl. There is more bang bang than kiss kiss in this film, and some of the kiss kiss is not exactly in the traditional Hollywood mold. I really do not want to get into details because you are better off if you just experience the film instead of me trying to explain it.

All things considered, I liked the bits and pieces of this movie more than the summation of the parts. I especially liked the bit where Harry tries to persuade someone to persuade to a bluff only to find the math did not work out in his favor, and the piece where Harry finally gets to toss aside his gun with one of the more understated big lines of recent memory. There is a bit more of black comedy here than of film noir, even if Harmony is fascinated by the pulp detective yarns of her youth, but that is fine with me. For all of his ups and downs Downey usually makes movies only during the ups, which is why he is almost always worth watching. He also shows a nice sense of restraint as an actor in the face of the over the top action that Black concocts for him again and again. Kilmer lays things on a bit thick, but he is clearly trying to have fun (even on the commentary track with Downey and Black), and Monaghan certainly manages to keep pace with her male co-stars.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon February 1, 2015
This unfairly overlooked if sometimes uneven parody of detective and noir films (that has moments of feeling like a real thriller itself) is extremely well acted.

It's no surprise that Robert Downey is a lot of snarky-but-lovable fun as a NYC small time thief brought out to L.A. to test for the lead in a film after a series of bizarre twists. What did catch me off guard was Val Kilmer matching Downey laugh for laugh and sharp edge for sharp edge as a gay Los Angeles private detective who takes Downey under his wing. The two make an improbable but very entertaining pair.

It's also nice that writer/director Shane Black and actress Michelle Monaghan make something a little more fun and complicated of 'the girl' than simply someone who looks good while waiting for Downey to get busy and kiss her.

The plot of the mystery itself has got a number of gaping holes and silly coincidences, and it lacks a real of feeling of danger, but the film has a breezy charm and quick witted, inventive, self-mocking intelligence that just about renders the fact that the detective story doesn't really work a moot point.
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on April 21, 2010
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a very funny send-up of the noir genre, partially based on a Brett halliday thriller that I assume played it straight. It's a meta-film, very self-conscious, which some might find irritating or distracting, but which helps the send-up of the typical self-conscious noir narrator. Typically convoluted noir plot, turned sideways. Excellent performances from Kilmer and Downey really make it. Well worth watching.
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Although this movie commits the usually worst sin in Hollywood filmmaking (voiceover narration) thanks to the abilities of Robert Downey and the writer to poke fun at that technique, it works.

Definitely a convoluted plot that you really need to just forget worrying about figuring out and just follow the violent fun. Val Kilmer is classic as a wise cracking smartass gay (yes, you heard that right) P.I. but every character commands the screen either dead or alive.

The whole update on the film noir genre also works thanks to its ability to integrate a wide world of El Lay landscape from Hollywood parties, MacArthur's Park, a mental hospital (reminiscent a bit of the old folks' home in "Chinatown"), hotel rooftop pools and the ubiquitous roads and freeways of the county.

Having said all this, I would rate this more a rental than a purchase given the DVD has lousy extras--just the usual commentary track.
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on December 4, 2014
Not bad
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