Don’t you just hate it when a fun, entertaining movie opens up and dies a slow and painful death in a few weeks? Don’t you feel really good about yourself for having “discovered” it along with a dozen of so people who were also sitting with you in the dark, laughing out loud, enjoying the film, connecting with the script and in a way, with you? Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is that type of a movie. It won’t make the big bucks, and it won’t have a cult following. And I have no idea why – it’s a great ride, delivered by actors who actually had fun on the set. How come Oceans 11 (and the sequel) can rake in gazillions and this little flick can’t even break double digits? Is George Clooney really that much cooler than Robert Downey Jr? Is he, really?
In all seriousness, I heard about this movie back in August, when it started doing to film circuit – Vienna, Montreal, Toronto. It was an unusual festival fare – not a classy, artful film, not a lot of glitzy stars, no controversy, and not really an independent, out of the blue production. Sure, it’s low budget, but it’s high entertainment. Perhaps the rumors are true – Shane Black (the screenwriter) is blacklisted. Who is Shane Black you ask? Oh, nobody really, only the guy who wrote all four Lethal Weapon films, gave us The Last Boy Scout, and (unfortunately, Last Action Hero and Long Kiss Goodnight). If you throw away the last two, it’s a solid resume. And if you do find Kiss Kiss Bang Bang somewhere and actually listen to dialogue for a minute or two, you’ll agree that Shane hasn’t lost his touch. If anything, his heroes are rougher, colder, more detached, and with more distant (deep under skin) emotions that you can get from most action films these days.
In other words, the dialogue sparks. A murder mystery dialogue, no less. Delivered by Robert Downey Jr, and Val Kilmer – these two guys can spew out entire soliloquies with their cheekbones and smirks. They deliver lines in their sleep. I want them to read me stories in bed… Ok, a bit too far. Anyway, a mismatched couple of private detectives (actually, Robert Downey is just pretending to be one – to get in bed with a girl – what else is new) are investigating murder in high-society L.A. How can you go wrong with this?Voice-overs, long fade-outs, flashbacks. This is just a great ride.
The plot is nothing new (a few surprises here and there), but the movie is all about atmosphere, about the mood, and L.A. delivers well. Check this out, it may even be on DVD soon. An unusual noir, stylish and with a heart. Too bad not enough people saw it, I would have loved to see these two in a sequel.