Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

The other week I watched Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, a tongue-in-cheek neo-noir starring Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer. I had seen it once before and liked it a lot, and I liked it almost as much the second time through.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is immediate in its presentation of style. Robert Downey Jr. narrates the film and consistently breaks the fourth wall while doing so. He includes misdirection and tangents, and if you’re not annoyed by those kinds of things, it will be a treat. I loved it, and enjoyed the direct address that Downey gave me as an audience member. He has just the right amount of charm to pull it off, even while playing a common criminal projected into Hollywood.

His thrust into Tinsel Town takes places when he escapes a robbery by running into a film audition. Because of the audition’s material exactly mirroring his immediately prior situation, he is able to impress the casting agents and bag a job. Real detective “Gay” Perry (Kilmer) is introduced to make Downey learn his detective role better, and the two stumble upon a mysterious murder. Along with Downey’s childhood crush who happens to be an aspiring actress in the area, the two try to track down and solve the mystery while staying alive.

The best thing about this movie is its awareness. It knows that it’s outrageous and embraces its genre. In fact, it’s almost more of an homage to a genre than anything else. It’s self-deprecating and self-praising. It’s funny while doing both. The excitement is always building as the shit just piles on for Downey, and the humor is maintained throughout all of it. Honestly, this is one of the most entertaining movies I’ve seen in a while.

The actors are fantastic. Downey is fantastic to play a selfish, cheap criminal who still manages some charm. One of the disappointments that I was met with this viewing was the homophobia, however. His character is blatantly disgusted by any mention of homosexual relations, gagging at Kilmer merely mentioning a male high-school sweetheart. I guess it was an attempt at humor, and I suppose his character is established as an idiot, but it still reeks and brought down the movie a bit. I would have been rooting for Downey a lot more if he wasn’t so uncomfortable with relations of an opposing sexual nature.

Kilmer manages to outshine Downey, and probably plays his most comedic role ever. He’s hilariously sharp as Perry, and brings a great discipline and down-to-earthness that Downey’s character clearly needs. The chemistry between them was hilarious and perfect. Any scene where Kilmer gets stuck with the bumbling Downey is sure to garner some genuine laughs, usually in favor of Kilmer.

The movie maintains its fun level from start to finish, and that’s a pretty rare instance, even in entertaining movies that are of low quality. This movie manages to defy statistics, however. It’s able to be intelligent, entertaining, and consistent the entire way through. I’d recommend this to absolutely anyone.

Final rating: 9/10

–James A. Janisse




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