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KISS KISS BANG BANG (R) (2005)

Warner Bros

Official Site

Director: Shane Black

Producer: Joel Silver

Written by: Shane Black

Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer, Michelle Monaghan, Corbin Bernsen, Dash Mihok, Larry Miller, Rockmond Dunbar, Shannyn Sossamon, Angela Lindvall

Rating:


Three men—Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer, and Shane Black, each vilified as has-beens, burnouts, egomaniacs—have come together to make the most entertaining film of the year, a rollicking self-conscious update on the old detective genre that owes a debt to Raymond Chandler, as well as Tarantino and Kaufman.

Downey plays Harry Lockhart, a small-time New York thief who gets mistaken for an actor and ends up at a swanky la-la land party. I’ve never been a great admirer of Downey; I tend to think his countless fuck-ups have caused some people to overestimate the amount potential that he’s squandered. (Same thing with Rasheed Wallace, back when he was a Trailblazer; people figured he would be a superstar if only he could keep it together. Well he finally cleans up his act, and now he’s really just an effective role player for Detroit.) But I have to admit Downey is perfectly cast in Kiss Kiss. I can’t imagine anyone else playing Harry and pulling it off so well. He is wonderfully animated as the none-too-sharp thief with the inherent sense of decency.

He’s teamed up with a tough homosexual P.I., Gay Perry (Kilmer), and his long-lost high school love (the delicious Monaghan) in a twisted, ultimately ridiculous farce of a pulp fiction. We’ve seen the venerable detective genre spoofed before, but Kiss Kiss Bang Bang isn’t simply a funny update. It’s the detective genre as interpreted with a new sensibility—an ironic, self-referential, dare I say, postmodern approach. It’s an approach that compliments the work of Tarantino by paying homage to the past, while at the same time undermining the old conventions to create something fresh.

Shane Black, once the highest-paid scribe in Hollywood before burning out a decade ago, has adapted Brett Halliday’s Bodies Are Where You Find Them as a true writer’s picture, with rapid-fire dialogue, clever pop-culture asides, and wised-up narration that actively comments on the story. Of course this kind of smirking PoMo approach won’t be to everyone’s liking. Breaking the so-called fourth wall is always a gamble, and sometimes the film is a little too cute for its own good. Nevertheless, those of us who gloried in the audacity of Pulp Fiction, Adaptation, and the TV series “Arrested Development” will find much appreciate in Black’s outrageously funny film.

—Edward Rholes

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


Mike Doughty



Pink Floyd

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