With writing credits for the first two Lethal Weapons, the Last Boy Scout, and the Long Kiss Goodnight, Shane Black made his directorial debut in 2005 with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. This detective noir has the perfect mix of dark humor driven by Robert Downey Jr. perfectly. Shane Black has teamed up again with Robert Downey Jr. in the upcoming Iron Man 3 so I thought this would be the perfect time to review this sleeper hit.
Robert Downey Jr. plays Harry Lockhart who is a small time crook from New York City. After a robbery goes wrong he finds himself running from the police. He makes his way into a random building and barges into a room where auditions for a movie are taking place. Mistaken as an actor he begins to audition for the role. With the state of mind he is in mixed with the type of role he is “auditioning” for, he completely mesmorizes the casting crew. Immediately, the casting director wants to send him to L.A. As for the police, an officer stumbles into the room but doesn’t recognize the “actor” as his perpetrator and even wishes him good luck.
I usually post the movie trailer with my reviews but I felt that this trailer gave away a key scene. Instead, here is the clip of Harry Lockhart eluding the police.
From struggling through life in New York, Harry is now living the Hollywood lifestyle in L.A. He meets private detective Gay Perry (Val Kilmer) at a party. Since the role he is auditioning for is a detective, the studio wants him to tag along on one of Gay’s cases to get a better sense of the role. Gay Perry lives up to his own name which makes for some good laughs. Later that night Harry reconnects with a childhood friend, the sexy Harmony Faith Lane (Michelle Monaghan). After a night of flirting and catching up on old times Harmony discovers her sister had died and is very suspicious about her cause of death. Thinking Harry is a detective she confides in him and begs for his help. Harry now finds himself involved in two different cases; one with Gay and one with Harmony. He is in over his head and that is just the beginning.
This detective story has a sarcasm throughout. Don’t think of it as a parody but it definitely mocks itself. It takes the clichés of other detective shows and movies such as Dragnet and L.A. Confidential and spins it 180 degrees. When you expect a scene to go towards one direction the script flips and throws you for a loop. That is the genius behind this movie. Shane Black worked hard on this script taking him a year and half to bang out while finding inspiration reading countless mystery stories. The quick witted dialogue and rapid-fire jokes are a testament to the hardwork he put into his screenplay. The story is somewhat complex but what good murder mystery isn’t? It is fun to see Harry, Gay, and Harmony wrap their heads around the two murder mysteries as they clash with each of their own wacky personalities.
In his directorial debut, Shane Black delivers a fun and humorous murder mystery equipped with fast-paced dialogue and witty banter. Robert Downey Jr, Val Kilmer, and Michelle Monaghan all give memorable performances breathing life into charming yet neurotic characters. With a small budget this film received a limited release despite opening at the 2005 International Cannes Film Festival and receiving a standing ovation from a high profile capacity. This hidden gem has developed a cult following and I suspect it is mainly due to its unique and dark humor. If you enjoyed movies such as The Big Lebowski or The Whole Nine Yards then give Kiss Kiss Bang Bang a whirl. It has great replay value and I find a new reason to like it even more with every single watch. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did =)