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Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang (2005)

Directed and Written by Shane Black/Based Loosely on Bodies Are Where You Find Them by Brett Halliday

  This was the film I had referred to in my Brick review found Here. I thought of this movie while viewing Brick because it had the same type of mystic attached and same Noir throwback feel. Vastly more comedic however and inspired by Raymond Chandler’s work. While Shane Black‘s directorial debut it seemed he had trouble writing the script taking almost 2 years. Joel Silver came to his rescue once again, previously helping Black with his big break with Lethal Weapon. Black is actually responsible for the cult classic The Monster Squad, Last Action Hero and the upcoming Iron Man 3 as well so it seems to be few genres he can’t tackle.

  The movie opens up presenting a child magician appearing to be performing at his hometown fair. Using the illusion of cutting someone in half, his act begins and shortly after the little girl begins to cry out for her life. Upon trying to save her discover she had been faking, claiming in wanting to pursue acting. Then we get a great opening with an old school mystery theme that leads into the first scene quite nicely. We are introduced to Harry Lockhart played by Robert Downey Jr. Who lets the audience know he will be narrating the movie, which didn’t take away from the movie like I had suspected it might. Downey was able to be playful with the audience throughout certain scenes and it worked greatly in favor for the film. Harry is or was at least a petty thief who accidentally falls into the movie business in the midst of running away from the cops. Harry also introduces us to the majority of recurring characters starting out with Harmony Lane who was played by Michelle Monaghan.

The story is a bit all over the place at times and could get confusing if you, for whatever reason, choose to not pay attention. There are certain parts where Harry will stop the reel and talk to the viewer as to why a scene is here or there. If anything it helped transition the film more appropriately then if he hadn’t said anything. Larry Miller plays Harry’s agent who hires Gay Perry (Val Kilmer) who happens to be a real detective. OK, stay with me now. While this doesn’t get mentioned until a bit into the movie, Harmony and Harry grew up together and both ended up at the party the film opened up with. The reason for Harry currently getting attention being that unbeknownst to him, Miller’s character was using him to have another actor lower his original price for a lead role. So after hiring Gay Perry, he assists Harry in taking him along on a case presently working with. Meanwhile through their own mishaps, come to witness a murder and entangle themselves in an exhausting case linking back to Harmony after hearing of her sister’s suicide. There are honestly so many twists and turns in this film that shouldn’t by any means be taken away upon watching so I could go on, but I’ll just suggest seeing the movie instead.

Kilmer and Downey shared a fantastic idiosyncratic dialogue that paired together better than “fava beans with a nice Chianti.” It felt like the pressure was off and they were able to come together for a great comedic chemistry showing the mocking humor they both do so well. Downey is certainly no stranger to entertaining audiences with the humor he’s been able to make a career out, basically being himself. The reason (in my opinion of course) Downey is able to achieve such success is that he pulls off ALMOST the exact same attitude in each role yet is able to be true to the current character fulfilling at said time. Other actors have accomplished similar tasks throughout their career akin to Christopher Walken and Vince Vaughn. Not to take away from their craft or say by any means this doesn’t work in their favor since it usually does. And I’m reaping all the benefits.

Monaghan played the pseudo, over exaggerated and often provocative damsel in distress. I imagine trying to cast someone as off the wall and quirky as Downey being a daunting enough task but to also find that in the opposite sex? I was surprised it worked at all. However I think next to her co-stars it was just difficult to measure up. There are also small roles for the great Corbin Bernsen and Shannon Sossamon. They however play greatly into all that heap of drama had I continued sharing story plots. SO, can’t say a whole lot there, Sossamon barely got any screen time at all. While Bernsen breezed through his part like the acting vet he is. Overall, a pretty terrific movie with a great detective interactive story that’s truly distinctive amongst “recent” comedies.

Memorable Quotes:

 “You don’t get it, do you? This isn’t “good cop, bad cop.” This is fag and New Yorker. You’re in a lot of trouble” ~ Perry

 “Perry: Look up “idiot” in the dictionary. You know what you’ll find?                   Harry: A picture of me?                                                                              Perry: No! The definition of the word idiot, which you fucking are!”

“Harry: Is she dead?                                                                                        Perry: No, she’s just resting her eyes for a minute. Of course she’s fucking dead, her neck’s broken.”