Sunday, April 16, 2006

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang

Year: 2005
Dir: Shane Black
Screenplay: Shane Black, Brett Halliday (novel)

Stars: ROBERT DOWNEY JR., Val Kilmer, Michelle Monaghan, Corbin Bernsen, Larry Miller

Defining Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, in one sentence is difficult, and pitching it must have been hell for Shane Black, best known for penning the Lethal Weapon series. Here in the directors chair for the first time, and back on stylistic form, he proves as good as the rest, when it comes to ridiculing Hollywood.

Many critics loved the in-jokes, and the indulgence that Black gives his audience on the inside, complete with an unholy dose of narcissism. For anyone looking for a comic turn on the noiresque thriller, as it’s been described in various glowing reviews, this film delivers on its seditious promise.

The fact that the movie stands on its own feet at all is credited to the great performance of its star, Robert Downey Jr. as main protagonist and narrator Harry Lockhart. Add Val Kilmer as Harry’s unlikely partner Gay Perry, played with such understated hilarity to leave you wondering why Kilmer hasn’t tried this stuff before.

Leaping over walls and moving faster than a speeding bullet, Michelle Monaghan, as Harry’s love interest Harmony Faith Lane, impressively puts her all into the role. Although she appears far too agile to be any kind of femme fetal, by the finale no one really cares anymore. Are we supposed to?

Black’s talent obviously shows in getting the film off the ground, and garnering these performances out of his stars, which the strange mix of writing doesn’t seem to warrant. Sure it’s funny. There are some great one-liners, a chase scene, a torture scene, in fact a whole lot of scenes that we’ve seen before. Even the stylish opening credits serve to fool an unsuspecting viewer.

There are some inspired moments, like the ‘Native American Joe Pesci’, but these cannot save this piece of celluloid from being ultimately pointless and disappointing. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang isn’t big, and it isn’t clever. Getting told to your face that you’ve been conned is not really funny. I’m sorry Mr. Black, it just isn’t!

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