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