Movie Project #25: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang [2005]

Due to the surprising success of my initial Movies Project, I decided to do a part two for 2012. This time around I put a greater emphasis on directors I am not familiar with, but I also tried to compile a mix of different genres and eras. This will be an ongoing project with the finish date being sometime this year.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang [2005]

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang [2005]
Director: Shane Black
Genre: Action/Comedy/Crime
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer and Michelle Monaghan
Runtime: 103 minutes

Look up idiot in the dictionary. You know what you’ll find?
A picture of me?
No! The definition of the word “idiot”! Which you fucking are!

Now where in the hell did this movie come from? It’s rare that a film can combine dark comedy, action and mystery so effortlessly in one package. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang has all of this, with a satirical spin on Film Noir to boot.

The always charismatic Robert Downey Jr. stars as Harry Lockhart, a common thief who acts as the meta narrator for our story. After a botched robbery attempt, Lockhart cleverly evades police by running into an ongoing audition for a detective movie. The part, conveniently enough, is eerily similar to the exact situation Lockhart is going through at that moment. He nails the gig, eludes the cops and gets a part in the movie. Now THAT’S how you run from the law.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang [2005]

To train for his role, Lockhart is teamed up with private investigator Perry van Shrike (Val Kilmer), commonly known as “Gay Perry”. While working on a case, the duo unwittingly stumble upon a vast conspiracy involving kidnapping and murder, and they soon become swept into a web of crime. Also caught in the heat of things is Lockhart’s high school sweetheart, Harmony Lane (Michelle Monaghan), who he happens to run into at a Hollywood party.

What transpires is an expertly written mystery that is both hysterical and suspenseful. The movie moves at a brisk pace, one that is occasionally hard to keep up with but always entertaining. The laughs are dark and crude, without resorting to slapstick or lazy humor. The story doesn’t take long to spiral out of control and it stretches the boundaries of believability (okay, it is hardly believable at all), but that doesn’t matter. This is a self-aware movie that revels in its irreverence.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang [2005]

And who better to play the lead narrator/thief/pseudo-actor than Robert Downey Jr.? The man’s comedic timing and delivery is impeccable, and he plays the lead with just the right amount of cynicism. His chemistry with the surprisingly buoyant Val Kilmer is off the charts. In fact, there are moments where Kilmer steals the scene. His “Gay Perry” delivers some brilliant wisecracks, a perfect complement to Downey’s zaniness. Bonus points go out to Michelle Monaghan who is as stunning as I have seen her, and boy does she know it in this film.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is one of the last decade’s more underrated films. Somehow this slipped under my radar (and many others, apparently) and I can’t believe it took me so long to discover this gem. Sure, the plot can be hard to keep up with, but damn if this isn’t an fun and wild ride. I am very glad to have included this in my project.


27 thoughts on “Movie Project #25: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang [2005]

  1. Morgan R. Lewis says:

    Great review, Eric. Like you, I discovered this film after the fact, and in my case largely by accident. (Best Buy free digital movie offer, saw it among the choices, thought “Hey, that sounds interesting.”) Was absolutely bowled over by how much fun it is. Downey, Kilmer, and Monaghan all play off each other extremely well.

  2. Pete says:

    Such a great film, Really put RDJ back on the map! Shame it didn’t do much for Kilmer’s career. Brilliant to hear Shane Black and RDJ are re-teaming for Iron Man 3.

  3. Nostra says:

    This is one of my personal favorites, such a funny movie. So many great scenes, like the one in the bar where they are comparing people to famous actors, another one is the russian roulette. Nice to see you liked it too.

    • Eric says:

      Haha those are great scenes indeed! It’s awesome to read all of this support in these comments. Perhaps more people have seen this than I thought…?

  4. ruth says:

    I quite enjoyed this movie, I mean the two leads are charismatic enough and has a good chemistry. Seems like RDJ *always* has a good rapport with his co-star. Now is this the last movie before Val became um, a whale? 😀

  5. TheBruce says:

    Future classic, right here.
    Smart script… from Shane Black, I guess it should be… He is pretty much the only reason I am even remotely looking forward to Iron Man 3.

  6. wordsformusic says:

    For a couple of days I have been pondering whether to watch this or not, reading reviews and then going against it to watch something else. But this has tipped me over, I will be watching this tonight. Whether my girlfriend wants to or not haha.

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