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Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

 This is a film review of the brilliant Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, starring Robert Downey Junior and Val Kilmer.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang



The thing about me is that I seem to collect regrets. I regret not being more confident when I was a kid, and not buying that McDonald's breakfast when the limited edition coffee mugs were on offer. But most of all, I regret not seeing Kiss Kiss Bang Bang at the cinema.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is an oddity of a film. Odd in that it's an American film which not only lampoons Hollywood and that kind of superficial East Coast pretention, but also manages to blend action, whodunnit, fast paced and witty dialogue and humour, and make a damn good film while it's at it.  The film has several nice twists and turns, great performances from the leads (these being the always brilliant Robert Downey Jr., former Batman Val Kilmer and relative newcomer Michelle Monaghan) and expert direction by Shane Black, accompanied by a fun score and a wonderfully film noir tone.

So, where to begin? I reckon the start is the best way forward. 

I saw this film based on the recommendation of my good buddy Elliott. To be honest, I'd never seen Downey Jr. in anything before, other than a couple of episodes of Ally McBeal when I couldn't be frakked changing the channel; all I knew of him was the guy who was kicked off that TV show because of drugs. And Val Kilmer? I'd heard of him, the name was familiar, but it had been years since I saw Batman Forever, so both of the male leads were new to me, in a way.  What I'm trying to say is, I didn't have the usual "Oh, he's in it, therefore it must be good" kind of expectations. Which, in my opinion, is the best way of watching a film.

The film starts with a jazz band playing an upbeat rendition of Sleigh Ride, before showing the audience a very swanky LA party. The narrator, Downey Jr., opens with a very sarcastic line about how his character, Harry Lockhart, got to this party, explaining that it's that kind of party where "If a girl is called 'Gill' it's spelled 'Jylle', that bullsh*t."

He goes into the backgrounds of the characters, and we're introduced to Harmony Faith-Lane (Monaghan) and Gay Perry (Kilmer).

Turns out that Harry got to the party entirely accidentally. Harry is a thief from New York who, on the run from the police, hides in a room, which just so happens to house a top movie producer and company.  Mistaking Harry for one of the actors due to take a screen test, they thrust him a script and Harry, who isn't always too quick on the uptake, takes a while to get into it. However, his literal partner in crime has just been shot by a passer-by, and Harry, reading the too-close-to-home subject matter of the script, breaks down and cries. The producer thinks this is brilliant acting and signs him up.  Harry literally goes from thief to film star in under 24 hours.  

Harmony's story is equally as accidental, but she's really at the party simply because she's attractive, an attribute that Narrator Harry notices very vocally. Harry goes into Harmony's background a little bit, showing us a scene of a nice countryside village, where a child is entertaining an audience of townsfolk by performing magic tricks. The girl in the wooden box, ready to be sawn in half is a young harmony, who at the end of her bloodcurdling theatrics announces "I'm going to be an actress!" 

Perry, nicknamed Gay Perry (because, would you believe it, he's homosexual), is a private eye and a friend of that hot shot producer.  He's employed to give Actor Harry detective lessons to help improve his acting skills. Shortly after the party, as Harry is trying to attract Harmony at a bar, it transpires that the magician from Harmony's background was actually Harry, and that these two are childhood friends from Indiana who've not seen each other since childhood. Harry was always in love with Harmony, who herself was quite content in frakking the entire school. 

With me so far?

All fairly unassuming... until Harry goes to detective lessons. What was supposed to be a normal reconnaissance trip for Perry turns into a witnessed murder, and then things go from weird to weirder.  Now Harry adopts the role of thief turned actor turned PI. 

As more bodies turn up, threats are delivered and digits are lost, the plot starts to get really, really interesting. I was engrossed from start to finish.  The dialogue never lets up, the twists keep on coming, and you learn more about the characters as the film progresses.  Harry's character in particular develops from a wistless waster into a bona fide movie hero as he has to endure all sorts of trials and pains in order to solve the mystery, and more importantly, get the girl. 

If I go into the plot any more, then I'll give it away, because, I swear to the Gods, I could talk about this film all damn day. So, to wrap it up, here's my highlights.

Gay Perry.  This character is probably one of the best fictional characters ever brought to the big screen.  I've always had a problem whenever gay supporting characters appear in movies that aren't specifically about homosexuality.  Mostly because they're portrayed as overly promiscuous, effeminate, camp as Christmas and only really likeable as figures of fun, comic characters.  Which is why I love this guy so damned much.  Perry is a hard ass who doesn't have a qualm about breaking a nose or two to get answers. There are camp moments, designed to act as a foil for Harry's blatantly hetero hero, which do bring a naughty smile, but his comedy value is in his intensely sharp wit.  Seriously, Gay Perry has some of the best witty lines I've ever heard in a film, and the fact that he is a master of the deadpan delivery just makes me love him even more. Kudos to Kilmer, this is the best character. Ever.

On saying that, I couldn't talk about Perry and his wit without mentioning the chemistry between him and Harry.  It honestly looks like Downey Jr. and Kilmer are the best of friends - they gel from the moment their characters meet, and their personality differences encourage razor sharp banter between them.  They are the best on screen pairing I've seen, reacting so naturally to each other it's brilliant. I mean, come on, they even share a kiss.

The narration is top notch, again continuing the wit and snappy dialogue, providing the funniest quotes I can find. Harry Lockhart is the perfect narrator, speaking like a hard-boiled film noir detective, and yet retaining the normalcy the audience needs to connect with his character. He's just a normal guy, and that helps you connect with him. You feel for him in the bad times, and laugh along with him during the good.

Overall, with this level of sarcasm, sardonicism, wit, humour, action, characterisation and sheer brilliance, you cannot really go wrong. 

I therefore mark this superb moving picture with a record breaking 8 out of 8. There is literally nothing I can find wrong with this film. 
 
 

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neronhaz
17th Feb, 2013 13:09 (UTC)
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This is the blog of Cos Ryan, a man you've never heard of. Contained within are blogs, music, film and book reviews, essays on a variety of things and various rants and raves. Tune in, it's proper good.

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