Sunday, October 9, 2011

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

By s. Sunday, October 9, 2011 , , , , , , ,
(103 min, 2005)
Director: Shane Black
Writers: Brett Halliday (novel) (in part), Shane Black (screen story)
Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer and Michelle Monaghan

Harmony in chaos.

A petty thief posing as an actor (Robert Downey Jr.) is brought to Los Angeles for an unlikely audition and finds himself in the middle of a murder investigation along with his high school dream girl (Michelle Monaghan) and a detective (Val Kilmer) who's been training him for his upcoming role

It's almost impossible to label this one. Crime? Comedy? Black comedy? This is the movie were Robert Downey Jr. hangs from the bridge, holding on to dead guy's hand sticking out of the coffin, tiny dog swallows severed fingers, Val Kilmer plays gay detective and Laurence Fishborne provides voice for bear in the commercial and the movie ends with song sung by Downey Jr. himself, which feels very out of place and that's the whole point. It's insane, fast and very memorable. And also – it's a great film.

“No, she's just resting her eyes for a minute. Of course she's fucking dead, her neck's broken.”

The story is complex, filled with twists and turns and everything is here – aspiring, adorable actress, charming thief and loser in life being hopelessly in love, hilarious detective, city of sin, crazy Russian roulette scene and insane amount of quotable dialogues. It's difficult not to get lost in that labyrinth of plots and jokes, intrigues and lies, but if you pay close attention you will be rewarded in the end with thank you message from Robert and Val themselves. How often does this happen in movies?

“Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” has overwhelming amount of movie references, half of which I'm probably not familiarized enough with the cinema to actually pick up on and recognize. I bet knowing all of those makes watching this movie even more fun, but even without such knowledge it's one hell of the ride – you won't get bored for a second – starting with beautiful opening credits, through large amount of settings filled with vivid characters and dialogues and ending with satisfying closure, you won't get this one out of your head.

“I was tired, I was pissed, I was wetter than Drew Barrymore at a grunge club.”

The movie is completely unpredictable and one of a kind. I remember Larry King called it “Pulp Fiction” of 00's and there is something to it. But there are some new elements in “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” - Val Kilmer's depiction of Gay Perry is generally considered to be the first openly gay character to front a Hollywood action movie (except the movie is anything but typical action film), the film is directorial debut of Shane Black and the movie provides friendly and hilarious voice over by Downey Jr. himself that establishes nice connection to the viewers.

“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.”

Initially the movie had big trouble, the studio wasn't much interested, but then when the film was finally finished it was screened on Cannes film festival and received a standing ovation. No wonder – it's the kind of movie you either love or hate, with rapid pace, a lot of talking and scenes changing quickly. The love/hate thing goes to extremes – the movie is either on top 10 or worst movies of all time lists when it comes to many people. There are great jokes in the film, but not all of them are easy – you actually have to think about it at times, it's not served to you on a silver plate. It's the same with the plot of the movie.

But the characters are so likeable – Harmony played by lovely Michelle Monaghan (looking forward to see her and Robert teaming up again in “Due Date”) is a typical young actress without much luck. Come to think of it, each of the characters is a loser in one way or another – Perry teaches actors things instead of actually doing detective job and Harry steals gums and grabs on to every chance he has, because, it's quite possibly, the only chance he has at a given moment. And that is why we relate – none of us is a glamorous movie star, role model for everyone at his job or someone who gets whatever one wants.

“Fuck, this is bad narrating. Like my dad telling a joke. "Oh, wait back up. I forgot to tell you the cowboy rode a blue horse." Fuck. Anyway, I don't know if you want to see it now, but here's the fucking robot stuff for your viewing pleasure. Can I say "fuck" more?”

The love story in the movie is charming and very classic in a way – it begins early, then there is sudden meeting, falling out, kiss and going through many adventures together. It's not romantic, given everything that happens in the movie (some of the content of “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” is quite dark, actually) but it is very sweet. Monaghan and Downey have good chemistry, but the best chemistry is between him and Kilmer – their exchanges, the situations they keep getting in and the famous kissing scene are hilarious. Downey is excellent, he has great talent that he uses wisely both in drama and comedies, but the comedies with him I adore even more than serious movies. But it's Kilmer who really steals spotlight here – his performance is so unexpected and surprising – you can't believe he is actually making it work.

“Don't worry, I saw Lord of the Rings. I'm not going to end this 17 times.”

I can definitely recommend this movie, because I love it with all my heart, but I know many of you won't even like it. That's the thing about it – the film is bizarre and catches you off guard so many times it's hard to determine whether you like it or not – it's a matter of personal taste. There aren't many films like this one, the closest would be “In Bruges” except it's far more serious than “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” which is, in the end, only amazing entertainment. I instantly knew I loved it (and it's not because I'm Robert's fan – there are movies with him I simply hate like “Gothika”) and I always felt it's a great shame the movie is not known better. So all I can say – watch it and make up your own mind. And hopefully – have great time.


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