Off the Shelf: 'Kiss Kiss Bang Bang'

Reported by: James Eppler
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Updated: 5/16/2012 10:37 am

"The Avengers" didn't have to be the monster success that it is to guarantee an "Iron Man 3." The studio has made an excellent decision with that upcoming film by hiring Shane Black to direct and co-write it.

He's the guy who wrote the "Lethal Weapon" movies, but he has only directed one time before. As it happens, that film also starred Robert Downey Jr.

But not nearly enough people got to see this little gem of a movie, so it's my recommendation this week.

"Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" (2005)
Director: Shane Black
Writer: Shane Black
Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer, Michelle Monaghan

What's it about?
It's in the model of buddy cop movie, but neither of the two guys at the center of it are cops. Downey is Harry, a small-time crook who accidentally lands a part in a movie. The producers pair him with a private investigator (Kilmer) to research for the role. Kilmer's character is known in L.A. as "Gay" Perry, a tough guy who just happens to like... tough guys.
When the two stumble upon a murder it unravels a twisted mystery.

What's good about it?
So much. But let's start with the lightning-fast dialogue loaded with sly jokes and sarcasm. This is a very self-aware movie where the narrator, Downey, knows he's narrating a movie and even comments on the cliches that occasionally play out.

That is a terrible scene.
It's like, "Why was that in the movie?
Gee, you think maybe
it'll come back later, maybe?"

I hate that. A TV's on,
talking about the new power plant.
Wonder where the climax will happen.

The back-and-forth between Kilmer and Downey is pretty great, too. They have a natural chemistry that makes the movie pop. I also like the tongue-in-cheek romance between Downey and Monaghan's characters.
And just how many R-rated movies actually apologize at the end for using the F-word too much? This one does.

What's the best scene?

Downey tries to interrogate a suspect with the old Russian Roulette scheme. He doesn't do his math right.

Fun Facts:
-Harrison Ford turned down the role of "Gay" Perry.
-This is credited as being the first action movie to be headlined by an openly gay character.

EPPLER'S RATING: * * * * 1/2

Out of five stars

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