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Overall Rating

Awesome: 33.33%
Worth A Look45.45%
Just Average: 15.15%
Pretty Crappy: 1.52%
Sucks: 4.55%

7 reviews, 24 user ratings

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Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Shane came back and brought a hilarious mystery goof with him"
4 stars

After revolutionizing the blockbuster action film with his screenplays for “Lethal Weapon,” “The Last Boy Scout” and “The Long Kiss Goodnight,” writer Shane Black basically disappeared from Hollywood for nearly a decade. With “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,” he makes his return–as well as his directorial debut–with a fast and funny deconstruction of the kind of film that made him famous and wealthy in the first place. The result may not the next “Pulp Fiction,” as some have described it, but with its blend of quirky dialogue, surprising violence and subversive narrative, it will certainly tide viewers over until the next “Pulp Fiction” does come around.

While escaping from a robbery gone bad, Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey Jr.) stumbles into an audition for a big-budget detective film and his “realism” earns him a trip to Hollywood for a screen test. While doing research with an acerbic gay detective, known as Gay Perry (Val Kilmer), Downey becomes embroiled in a real-life crime or two involving an old grade-school girlfriend, the wonderfully-named Harmony Faith Lane (Michelle Monaghan), a sleazy millionaire (Corbin Bernsen), unspeakable secrets from the past, a couple of dead bodies, a robot, a couple of missing body part and a series of old pulp detective novels. This unfathomably complex story is narrated by Downey’s character–he tries to sound tough and hard-bitten but is such a decidedly unreliable narrator that he has to continuously backtrack to reveal important information that he forgot to mention the first time around. The effect is oddly endearing–imagine the plot of a standard-issue Raymond Chandler story being told to you by someone who never quite got around to actually reading the whole thing and is desperately inventing things on the fly in order to convince you otherwise.

Black’s screenplay is appropriately twisty and even the more brutal moments (such as Downey losing the same finger twice) are leavened by the genuinely amusing situations, self-aware dialogue and the occasional endearing non-sequitur–I inexplicably love the moment when a surprised Kilmer comes out with “What in pluperfect hell . . . ?” As a director, he doesn’t reinvent the wheel but he keeps things moving at a fast and funny clip and the film looks as sleek and stylish as the very genre that it is goofing on. The three leads are all highly entertaining as well–Downey, an actor who can be great when given strong material to work with, turns in one of his best performances here, Kilmer is flat-out hilarious in what may be his most likable turn since the glory days of “Top Secret” and “Real Genius” and the lesser-known Monaghan (who can also be seen this week in “North Country”) is sweet, silly and sexy in what should be a star-making role as the dame at the center of everything..

Although the film moves at such an exhaustive pace that it begins to run out of steam in the last couple of reels (after a decade out of the game, it feels as if Black wanted to put every good idea he had in that time into one script), “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” is a hugely entertaining film that has a lot of fun with genre conventions but smartly remembers to build its weirdo diversions atop of a relatively solid narrative foundation. The film may be getting sold as just another silly action comedy (though it is currently getting only an inexplicably limited release) but it is a lot smarter and funnier than the ads let on. Who would have thought that the man behind the utterly hateful likes of “The Last Boy Scout” and “The Long Kiss Goodnight” would have something so playful and intelligent in him waiting to get out?

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=12833&reviewer=389
originally posted: 10/21/05 00:21:23
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Toronto Film Festival For more in the 2005 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Vancouver Film Festival For more in the 2005 Vancouver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 FilmFest Kansas City For more in the 2005 FilmFest Kansas City series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Austin Film Festival For more in the 2005 Austin Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

2/14/14 MatthewThompsonDalldorf Clever and intense with some good laughs 4 stars
4/06/08 Jack Sommersby Overly self-conscious filled with uninteresting story and characters. 2 stars
3/23/08 ladavies It felt like the narration was pasted on at the last minute, but otherwise entertaining 3 stars
3/04/08 mr.mike Worth seeing but a bit too cutesy at times. 4 stars
5/17/07 ES couple of laughs, no hell 3 stars
3/30/07 fools♫gold Funny, finally funny, exceptionally funny, keeps you laughing, and short. 4 stars
3/25/07 Donny M Too good to put into words. 5 stars
1/03/07 Tom Very, very funny. The self referencial humour was clever! 5 stars
11/05/06 AJ Muller Cast is brilliant, script is stellar, Black/Downey/Kilmer/Monaghan absolutely ROCK! 5 stars
9/21/06 Alyssa Hale I hated it, couldn't watch more than 10 minutes of it. 1 stars
8/03/06 Indrid Cold Plays with Raymond Chandler plot and dialogue cliches to great effect. Quite entertaining. 4 stars
6/19/06 JH Great movie. Black humor, plot twists and chemistry. 5 stars
6/15/06 Agent Sands Kilmer & Downey are two of the most charming actors in cinema. 5 stars
6/14/06 Tom Kilmer and Downey were good together over narration worked and fixation on grammar was fun 4 stars
4/28/06 MP Bartley Brilliantly funny script never descends into smugness. Kilmer and Downey Jr are priceless. 5 stars
4/21/06 Aldo had its funny moments...but story could of been layed out better 3 stars
1/18/06 Don Paco Wickedly funny. Downey jr. is great! Bit too wacky at the end, but still a whole lot of fun 5 stars
11/17/05 Robert Braunfeld Lethal Weapon revisited Chemistry not there 3 stars
11/15/05 Erik Van Sant Absolutely the most entertaining and original film I've seen in years. 5 stars
11/03/05 Megan great movie 5 stars
11/02/05 Stephen P F*cking hilarious - just brilliant! 5 stars
10/11/05 Josh Swanson Funny flick, enjoyed it thoroughly. 4 stars
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  21-Oct-2005 (R)
  DVD: 13-Jun-2006



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