Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Shane Black has been responsible for writing some of the best completely lightweight comedy thrillers of the 80s/90s. Anyone of a certain age that doesn’t have a soft spot for Lethal Weapon is a goddamn liar or clinically anal (although, more than likely both). And, while Bond was floundering he knocked out The Long Kiss Goodnight which basically showed them how it should be done (lots of people are doing that nowadays, it’s amazing how complacent you can get with a guaranteed branding). After a fairly long period of silence from him comes his directorial debut
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

On the run from the cops, a low-rent crook stumbles into a Hollywood audition and his ‘method’ wins him a role and a trip to LA. Where he is packed off learn how to be a detective by shadowing the real thing. On their first run of the mill stakeout, a corpse turns up (the first of many) and they find themselves caught up in…oh, you get the drift.

And, bloody good it is too. Laugh-out-loud funny at more than a few points, and with just the right balance of wise-cracking buddy stuff (that you would expect) and bang up-to-date gross out humour.

But, what really makes this are the central performances from Robert Downey Jr and Val Kilmer. Both of whom looked at one point poised to be lauded as among the greatest actors of their generation. This, sadly, was never to be. On Downey’s part this was down to a rock ‘n’ roll spiral into drug addiction and all that type of stuff. Kilmer, through some serious bonehead career choices. Both have always had a certain affinity for comedy (always the sign of a good actor). Seriously, over the festive season keep and eye of for Weird Science or (probably more likely to be stumbled across when lying on the couch hungover) Chances Are and tell me that there was ever any doubt the Downey was the only choice to play Chaplin – he has a command of physical comedy that seems to be a dead art. And, here, both have never been on such fine form.

So what if the chemistry between the main characters is handled a bit strangely. Not that it’s not there, but they just seem to go from the squabbly stage to buddy-buddy with no real transition. The actual story is pretty flimsy and luckily completely irrelevant to enjoying the movie. There are numerous false endings, a whole chain of feel good denouement(s?) that verge on the irritating. There’s just one too many – although I’m not certain which one.

This film is far from perfect, and certainly not a classic. But, it’s a darn sight more worthy investment of your time than a lot of stuff released this year.


Written by Tony Kiernan

19 December 2005 at 12:03 pm

Posted in Film

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