Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang

Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang is a blast and so much better than one would expect. Writer/director Shane Black is no stranger to crime comedy, having penned most of the Lethal Weapon series but Bang shows he has an intelligent, amusingly weird side that most would not expect. The film stars Robert Downey Jr. as a thief turned aspiring actor who pals up with homosexual detective, Gay Perry (played at his most tongue-in-cheek by Val Kilmer showing comedic range he never has before). Downey finds himself in the midst of a real murder mystery while posing as a real detective to impress his high school dream girl, Michelle Monaghan. While we never quite believe that the 40ish Downey and the 30ish Monaghan would ever have been high school classmates, both are so infectious in their roles that it’s easy to forgive. The film benefits greatly from the hilarious, postmodern narration of Downey that’s riddled with enough pop-culture references and off-the-wall comparisons to make Amy Sherman-Palladino, the creator of Gilmore Girls, jealous. While it does seem a bit “for the boys” at times with one or two gross gags involving a severed finger and a dog (just to name one) and the unapologetic exploitation of Monaghan’s body, the film is just so darn clever that I really couldn’t have cared less. Fans of Raymond Chandler would especially enjoy the work which uses the titles from his books as chapter headings in the films and borrows a bit from some of the master’s plots—although, like Chandler, while it all begins getting far more complicated than one could imagine, after it’s over I realized it was a bit like the film itself (a grand spectacle with only one or two valid plot lines that are necessary to follow—the rest serving as classic red herrings). Downey’s delivery of the dialogue and his self-conscious quirks make one remember just how talented he is and hopes that he’ll continue being written such great dialogue as the stuff offered up for him by Shane Black. Note: The title is most likely a play on Godard’s idea that to make a film one only needed a guy, girl and a gun. Pauline Kael shortened this phrase by making up her own: “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang.”