Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang (Shane Black, 2005) centers on a New York thief turned actor named Harry (played by Robert Downey, Jr.), who is unexpectedly drawn into a murder mystery in Los Angeles. Accompanying him are his high school crush, Harmony (Michelle Monaghan), and a detective named Perry (Val Kilmer). I first watched the film on television in a hotel room during vacation a few years ago. I only saw about an hour or so of the movie, but I enjoyed it so much that I bought it on DVD from Best Buy for $14.99.A positive aspect of the film is the writing. Shane Black, the writer-director, is generally known for composing works for buddy films, such as Lethal Weapon. He sets the same type of story in Kiss, Kiss, but he effectively pokes fun at the genre in his feature debut as director. The script is full of peppy dialogue, and one has to listen as closely as they watch. The story, while not completely plausible, serves its purpose as a vehicle for propelling the banter exchanged between the protagonists and the action sequences that ensue. The climax is quite exhilarating to say the least.
The actors perform very well together. Robery Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer have great chemistry as Harry and Perry respectively. Much of the humor is derived from this pair which provides the bulk of the movie's enjoyment.
There are some slight criticisms. The film attempts to balance dark humor and seriousness in certain parts. For example, in one sequence, Harry and Perry must dispose of a body but encounter a series of mishaps while doing their deed. Some audience members may or may not enjoy this dichotomy as some situations may seem too macabre. Personally, I liked the fusion of the two concepts, but it may not appeal to everyone.
The witty humor may not register at times as well. In one example, Harry engages in a tirade on the personalities of the women in Los Angeles, comparing them to what he refers to as "damaged goods." It is only funny if one understands it as the sarcastic tone of Shane Black's experience in Hollywood, where some women are stereotypically identified as shallow or vapid. If one were to construe it as a serious critique, viewers would likely be offended instead of amused. Black's humor can be difficult to decipher in this manner.
In addition, the film resembles Black's other work, Lethal Weapon, in that it has a convoluted plot that becomes overshadowed by the friendship between the two male leads. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but the overall focus on the pair can affect exposition. For example, there is one particular scene where much of the story is explained, but it is expounded upon so fast, that confusion ensues; I was compelled to pause the DVD and replay the scene to make sure I understood everything.
In terms of the narrative, the friendship between Harry and Perry is much more entertaining than the relationship between Harry and Harmony. To be fair, Downey, Jr. and Monaghan are skilled actors who add some interest to their scenes together, but the ones between Downey and Kilmer seem much more relaxed and effortless in comparison.
On a side note, this movie is rated R. It contains some violence, blood, language, and brief nudity. It is not a film meant for children.
The DVD does not include a lot of extra features, which is another disappointment. Despite being an admirable movie, Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang did not achieve a high box office take. Subsequently, the material on the DVD is sparse. The only significant addition is an amusing gag reel showing the actors' mistakes during shooting.
I would recommend this movie to those who are looking for an amusing buddy flick that has action in it as well.