Film Noir Ha Ha
"Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" is one of those rare gems of a movie which comes along only once in a while because not only is it entertaining it is entertaining for movie lovers. Writer and director Shane Black has given us film noir, a classic detective story set in a modern era which has various twists but more importantly has filled it with tongue in cheek humour. Right from the opening scenes he serves up a series of laughs and these laughs, these moments of often dark humour, flow through out this crime story. But Black does more than just gives us humour, he makes fun of movies with a narrator who is aware that he is talking to an audience and so we have humour built from movie conventions as well. As such whether you're a film geek or not "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" will make you laugh over and over again.
Small time robber Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey Jr. - Bowfinger) stumbles into an audition as he tries to escape the police and before he knows it has been jetted to L.A. as the next big thing. And in order to be the next big thing he has to shadow Private Investigator Gay Perry (Val Kilmer - The Missing) for a few days to study how to play a Private Dick. But shadowing turns into the real thing when they end up at the centre of not one murder but two and these murders bring Harry back in touch with his childhood dream girl Harmony Faith Lane (Michelle Monaghan - The Bourne Supremacy) a struggling actress whose only claim to fame is one beer commercial.
To be honest I am a little lost for words as to how to review "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" because this is a simple movie but with a lot going on and it moves at such a frantic pace that you barely have time to stop laughing after one tongue in cheek moment as the next one is on the way. I say it's simple because at its heart we have film noir, a crime story with a narrator who helps explain things as the story unfolds whilst setting the scene. And as such we have this humorous set up of small time criminal Harry working as an actor in L.A. tailing a Private Investigator to get experience on playing a Private Investigator and finding himself in the middle of two deaths and a lot of mystery. Throw into the mix his childhood dream girl who he become reacquainted with and we have this semi generic crime story as the crime is unravelled Harry finds himself dealing with attempts on his life.
As such this crime story has various twists, you would expect nothing else and it does lead you to question who is a good guy and who is a bad guy and who is behind the deaths. But these twists are simply very funny from Harry and Gay Perry finding a body in a dumped car to that body resurfacing in Harry's shower it continually makes you laugh by throwing in these surprises. And then there is the humour of Harry trying to win over his childhood dream girl Harmony which leads to some confusion and a very painful experience for Harry. And talking of painful experiences you don't want to know what happens when the bad guys catch him.
But all of this humour is all built from the story and the characters yet Shane Black gives us more by delivering humour about movies. As such we have Harry as the narrator who rather than just telling us about a crime is telling us about the crime which is a movie, he basically knows he is talking to an audience. And so there is more to it than just telling the story, there is humour as to whether he can swear and then apologies when he does as well as the ability to rewind and insert things into the story. And so like with the humour which springs from the crime story the humour from discussing movies is just as much fun especially for a film geek who can laugh at all the genre mickey taking which goes on.
Central to all of this is a trio of enjoyable performances which start with Robert Downey Jr. as Harry Lockhart. Not only is Downey's cynical narration full of wonderful humour but so is his portrayal of Harry who finds himself drawn into the mess, delivering not only more humour but also drama when it is called for. Downey also works well with Val Kilmer as Private Dick Gay Perry a wonderful character, not camp but with that dead pan delivery of subtle innuendo. And then there is Michelle Monaghan who maybe playing the typical character of the female she does it with so much gusto be it when screaming at Harry or acting sexy in a Santa outfit and it has to be said Michelle Monaghan in a Santa outfit is a site worth seeing.
What this all boils down to is that Shane Black in his directional debut has crafted a wonderful movie in "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang". Not only will this move entertain the masses with its crime story, action and humour but will also entertain film geeks who will love all the tongue in cheek jabs at the film noir genre.