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Overall Rating
4.02

Awesome: 33.33%
Worth A Look45.45%
Average: 15.15%
Pretty Bad: 1.52%
Total Crap: 4.55%

7 reviews, 24 user ratings


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Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang
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by William Goss

"The Private Eyes Have It"
5 stars

Timing is everything. Just ask Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey, Jr.). When fleeing a botched toy store robbery in New York, he literally stumbles into an acting audition, one for a part that just happens to mirror his current situation. With the talent agents convinced he’s the real deal, Harry soon finds himself in Los Angeles, a thief posing as an actor posing as a detective.

At a party, he runs into a childhood friend, Harmony Faith Lane (Michelle Monaghan), an actress with one beer ad on her resume and a younger sister who may be in trouble. Harry then teams up with Perry van Shrike, a.k.a. Gay Perry (Val Kilmer), a detective he is shadowing for his ‘role.’ Soon enough, Harry gets dragged into both Harmony’s and Perry’s cases, making his visit to Hollywood consist of little more than a whole lot of Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang.

After writing scripts for the original Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout, and The Long Kiss Goodnight and then disappearing off the radar, Shane Black is back with KKBB, his directorial debut that tackles film-noir conventions with tongue surgically grafted into cheek. Black shows genuine affection for old-school detective fiction while toying with many of its aspects, the most notable being the narrator. In his film, Harry not only narrates, but he acknowledges that he is narrating and will even pause to criticize his own behavior as well as other parts of the story. There are also little touches, like when Harry refers to Harmony’s legs as ‘stems,’ or the film’s chapters, whose titles come from the works of Raymond Chandler.

These are just a few ways with which Black recognizes elements of the action genre he partially pioneered without creating a full-blown parody, with a wink wink here and a nudge nudge there. From the first frame, the film never begs to be taken seriously, and that’s where the fun begins. After some slick opening credits set the tone, KKBB hits the ground running, always progressing the plot, even when the viewer cannot keep up or simply cannot care less. Though the film becomes bogged down briefly between the second and third acts, the momentum manages to pick up again until the chaotic climax.

All three leads carry the film equally well. Downey Jr. redeems himself from his various missteps (Gothika, anyone?) as the snarky protagonist, Kilmer turns out to be surprisingly confident in his cocky role, and Monaghan offers the closest thing to the movie’s heart and soul, seeing as her character is the most innocent (and most attractive. Come on. You can't deny it. Two words: Santa skirt.).

Perhaps that’s what makes KKBB such a blast. Forget the plot. With such a game cast and a script soaked in stinging sarcasm, one could care less about who really did what to who and why. Even Harry makes a comment about the moviegoers unraveling the plot by a certain point, but what does it matter when Perry is waiting to sling more sharp remarks at Harry’s expense or when Harmony is waiting to slink across the screen? Sure, there’s a hearty helping of violence, language, and nudity, but Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang fuses all its elements with an undeniable coolness, a relentless energy that softens the harshness of all those naughty bits and just begs you to have a good time.

Towards the end, our hero refers to his circumstances at that moment as being “every shade of wrong.” Come on, Harry. What fun would it be if it weren’t?

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=12833&reviewer=409
originally posted: 11/09/05 19:43:04
[printer] printer-friendly format  
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
6/12/08 PAUL SHORTT VULGAR, NOISY, POINTLESS AND STUPID 1 stars
4/07/08 Jack Sommersby Overly self-conscious filled with uninteresting story and characters. 2 stars
3/24/08 ladavies It felt like the narration was pasted on at the last minute, but otherwise entertaining 3 stars
3/05/08 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
3/26/07 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
11/06/06 AJ Muller Cast is brilliant, script is stellar, Black/Downey/Kilmer/Monaghan absolutely ROCK! 5 stars
9/22/06 Alyssa Hale I hated it, couldn't watch more than 10 minutes of it. 1 stars
8/04/06 Indrid Cold Plays with Raymond Chandler plot and dialogue cliches to great effect. Quite entertaining. 4 stars
6/20/06 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
6/15/06 Tom Kilmer and Downey were good together over narration worked and fixation on grammar was fun 4 stars
4/29/06 MP Bartley Brilliantly funny script never descends into smugness. Kilmer and Downey Jr are priceless. 5 stars
4/22/06 Aldo had its funny moments...but story could of been layed out better 3 stars
1/19/06 Don Paco Wickedly funny. Downey jr. is great! Bit too wacky at the end, but still a whole lot of fun 5 stars
11/18/05 Robert Braunfeld Lethal Weapon revisited Chemistry not there 3 stars
11/16/05 Erik Van Sant Absolutely the most entertaining and original film I've seen in years. 5 stars
11/05/05 JACK HORSEMELANCHOLIC@YAHOO.COM 1 stars
11/04/05 Megan great movie 5 stars
11/03/05 Stephen P F*cking hilarious - just brilliant! 5 stars
10/12/05 Josh Swanson Funny flick, enjoyed it thoroughly. 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  21-Oct-2005 (R)
  DVD: 13-Jun-2006

UK
  N/A

Australia
  10-Nov-2005




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