Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

Everyone else had left campus, the dorms had closed, it was almost Christmas, but there I was stuck at work. Knowing no one would be coming into an obscure art gallery in the middle of a blizzard, I popped in one of my favourite Christmas movies (and favourite movies in general) to alleviate my doldrums. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a twisted, complex, and hilarious mystery/action flick that is just incredibly fun to watch. Small-time New York thief Harry Lockhart (the forever handsome Robert Downey, Jr) accidentally lands himself in Los Angeles for a screen test. At a jumpin' party he's set up with private investigator and film consultant Gay Perry (Val Kilmer) to help improve his acting.

There he also runs into his high school crush and failing actress Harmony Faith Lane (Michelle Monaghan) but ends up on her bad side after hooking up with her friend. While on a stakeout of a cabin in the woods, Perry and Harry witness a girl's body being dumped into a lake, and find they were spotted by the unknown killers when they try to frame Harry for her murder. Meanwhile Harmony believes her sister was killed, and, mistakenly believing Harry to be a PI, hires him to solve her murder. Now the three of them are embroiled in a multiple murder mystery that eerily mirrors Harry's and Harmony's favourite books as kids, the Johnny Gossamer detective novels, all set against the bawdy hedonism of those involved in the movie industry.

This movie is freaking awesome in every single way possible. The dialogue is some of the funniest, most quotable I have ever heard ("I don't think you'd know where to put food at, if you didn't flap your mouth so much. Yes, I think you're stupid"; "Wow, I feel sore. I mean physically sore, not like a guy who's angry in a movie from the 1950's"). Robert Downey, Jr is at his snarkiest, mumbliest, and adorable best. He also narrates- one of my favourite things in films- with wit and silliness and forthrightness which really add to the enjoyment of the movie as well as understanding. Val Kilmer, whom I usually haven't particularly liked, is sharp and not over the top as a gay character. Michelle Monaghan is funny and beautiful, and surprisingly badass at parts.

The plot, partially based on a Michael Shayne detective story, pulls you in: a legitimately complex, fast-paced, and interesting mystery alongside the non-stop humor. There's torture, boobs, gun fights, satire, and even some magic tricks (illusions). It keeps viewers on their toes the entire time, whipping up unexpected twists at multiple turns. For me it's one of those movies that never gets old- I could watch these guys do their thing over and over and still be exceptionally entertained. I can quote it with my friends (or to myself) every day and it remains funny. There are so many little moments or lines that I often forget, so there's usually something fresh to see whenever I watch it. I pretty much can't say anything more except that this is one of the best movies, so go see it already.



  1. I don't know why I haven't seen this yet! You have convinced me.

  2. Oh, yay! That makes me feel useful. I hope you like it!

  3. Nice review Alex. Though I'm not sure if the movie deserves 5 stars, I must admit I too immensely enjoyed the movie. This is indeed one of those movies you're bound to have fun while watching. The mixture of hard boiled cynicism and black humour was spot on. And interestingly, the various chapters are named after Raymond Chandler's novels and short stories; that tells you that the heart of the movie was at the right place.

  4. Thanks! And I didn't know that about the chapter titles- that's really cool!

  5. I'm with you on this. It is one of my favorite movies evaaaaaa.

    I have watched it several times and I'm still not sure that I entirely understand the criss and the crosses, but it doesn't matter. Robert Downey Jr. pissing on a dead body and then wondering if you want dust for piss is about as classic as you can get.

  6. 5/5 is right on as far as the smart writing, the wit and story goes. I quite liked this and am glad someone else does too. It did get a little thin toward the end but Kilmer and Downey were simply one of the best and most overlooked screen pairings in a while. Highly enjoyable and damn good replay value!

    "There was like an 8 percent chance" "8 percent? Who taught you math??" Classic:)

  7. Id never heard of this movie before now, thanks for the heads-up.