Film review: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005), directed by Shane Black
In this peculiar comedy, Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey Jr) is a thief who stumbles into a film audition, unexpectedly gets hired for the part, and is taken to Los Angeles to live the high life while waiting for filming to start.
At a party hosted by Dabney Shaw (Larry Miller), Harry is introduced to private eye Gay Perry (Val Kilmer), with whom Harry has been told to do some research, as he will be playing a detective in the film. Method acting, you know.
It’s just that the two stumble across a dead body, and Harmony (Michelle Monaghan), a mutual friend of theirs, has some sisterly issues that she needs help with, and it’s all very complicated.
Also starring Corbin Bernsen as Harlan Dexter, Shannyn Sossamon as Pink Hair Girl, with Dash Mihok and Rockmond Dunbar as the main goons.
I didn’t really know what to expect with this film, but what I got was a quirky crime comedy with some definite laugh-out-loud moments (at least one of them was oddly inappropriate). In a way, you could say it’s a weird Cinderella story: Harry is a small-time crook trying to burgle a toystore for a Christmas present for his neice – and he ends up going to glitzy parties in Hollywood. I guess you could say he really does fake it ’til he makes it.
The cackhanded attempts at disposing a body get more and more absurd, and the plot line gets into a great big tangle – but it’s all good. It’s dreadfully entertaining, frequently funny, and not exactly predictable either. There are twists and turns, and Harry’s narration makes it all the better.
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is not a million miles away from what would happen to any roleplaying group trying to play this as an adventure.
GM: “You see a car plunge into the water.”
Harry: “We must rescue whoever might be in it! I can’t swim, you save them!”
Gay Perry: “I’ll dive down after it.”
GM: “The inside of the car appears to be empty. There is no driver.”
Gay Perry: “I’ll check the boot. This is probably someone trying to dump evidence.”
GM: “The boot is locked.”
Gay Perry: “I shoot at the lock!”
GM: “Okay, it’s a hit. The boot opens. There’s a woman inside.”
Gay Perry: “I examine the woman.”
GM: “She’s dripping wet from the lake you’ve just pulled her out of. Also: she’s dead.”
Gay Perry: “Damn, we were too late.”
GM: “Harry, you notice she’s been shot through the head. Recently.”
Harry: “Or you just killed her when trying to shoot the boot lock open. Idiot.”
That concept alone makes it pretty darn entertaining, actually. Yeah, definitely a film worth seeing. Adventure, murder mystery, private detectives, and a little bit of romance and a lot of humour. Yup, it certainly works for me.
4 out of 5 gumshoe novels.