Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
Directed by Shane Black
“My name’s Harry Lockhart; I’ll be your narrator.” That’s Robert Downey Jr., playing a thief masquerading as an actor who pretends to be a private detective. This is how writer/director Shane Black (who also directs RDJ in “Iron Man 3”) decides to start his story off, having his narrator introduce himself directly to the audience, and it embodies all the quirky deliciousness that “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” has to offer.
Harry Lockhart is a New Yorker transplanted in L.A. for a fake acting career. He’s told to work with private eye Gay Perry (a riotously entertaining Val Kilmer), who’s been hired as a consultant in order to help Lockhart hone the art of investigation for his big movie role. When the phony Lockhart gets wrapped up in a big-time crime involving a childhood friend (who moved to L.A. for a legitimate acting career) and a movie exec he’s been working with, he has no choice but to use his mediocre detective skills to help his partner solve the case. Cue the hilarity.
RDJ is at the peak of his charming sarcasm in this one. Take his dramatic investigative role in “Zodiac” and combine it with his side-splitting turn in “Due Date,” and you might find something like Harry Lockhart. Why did it take me 8 years to discover this? As his gay partner (I mean his detective partner, who happens to be gay…thought I should clear that up), Val Kilmer is absolutely hysterical. His back-and-forth quips with RDJ are pure entertainment. And by “pure” I don’t mean clean and appropriate for children. That it is not. But it’s entirely enjoyable regardless. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie where Val Kilmer plays a lead role (I know I just ousted myself as one of the 31 guys left in the world that hasn’t seen “Top Gun.” Crucify me if you will.) Now, though, I want to. (If anyone has any Kilmer suggestions for me, let me know.) And Michelle Monaghan, who I’ve been seeing a lot of lately (“Due Date,” “Source Code”) is enjoyable. A tad forgettable, maybe? Oh well.
Based in part on the novel “Bodies Are Where You Find Them” by Brett Halliday, the script is as fun and fresh and clever as I’ve seen in a while. The noire-ish story is a little less intelligible than the usual crime movie fare, but it definitely keeps you guessing. It presents itself as part buddy cop flick, part crime-noire, part action-thriller, with a dash of romance. Just a tiny dash. But it’s a perfect balance of grim action and uproarious laughter. This is a seriously funny piece of work.
“Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” is on Blu-ray and DVD.