Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (quickie)

My friend Garth recommended I watch Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005) multiple times before I finally got around to watching it the other day. For some reason I was expecting a combination of RocknRolla and Layer Cake; instead the movie is closer to In Bruges but much more lighthearted and fun. And in the end, maybe "fun" is really the best way to describe this movie. I don't mean "fun" in the way the Transformers movies or the latest Die Hard is fun by sacrificing story for big set piece action scenes. Quite the opposite. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang has plenty of action, but the focus is clearly on the story, which works well because the story is the most entertaining I've encountered in a long time. Robert Downey Jr. is absolutely hilarious and Val Kilmer's role as the private investigator Gay Perry allows Kilmer to showcase his talent for comedic character portrayals. The film is also eminently quotable, another sign of the quality of the writing.

One of the many fun aspects of this film is its element of metanarrative. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is, perhaps more than anything else, a story about how to tell stories in a movie, a skill many writers seem to struggle with. And fortunately the story is so good that it works. As the movie begins, Robert Downey Jr.'s voice intrudes with a friendly "My name is Harry Lockhart, I'll be your narrator." The movie has a lot of fun playing with the voice over, and, well, I can't think of a way to gracefully introduce this other than just saying it: here are some of my favorite metanarrative moments.

Soon after introducing himself Harry adds, "Anyway, by now you may wonder how I wound up here. Or, maybe not. Maybe you wonder how silly putty picks shit up from comic books. The point is, I don't see another goddamn narrator, so pipe down." He also pauses the film multiple times to rewind and add something that he had missed previously. Later, after a major character appears to die but miraculously returns, he comments, "Look, I hate it too. In movies where the studio gets all paranoid about a downer ending so the guy shows up, he's magically alive on crutches, I hate that. I mean shit, why not bring them all back?" and while he's speaking, all the characters which had been killed enter the room along with a man dressed as Abe Lincoln. Maybe the best line comes at the end of the movie when Harry is closing multiple subplots and attempts to justify himself by saying, "Don't worry, I saw the last Lord of the Rings. I won't have the movie end 17 times."

Okay, sorry about that. I don't usually like to post quote lists since it's lazy writing, but if there's one thing that should get you to see this movie it's the dialogue. Or, make that the monologue, I guess. Anyway, you get the point. If you like Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer and would like to see a fresh, original action/comedy which succeeds on both fronts, definitely give this movie a try. If not, I don't know, go watch Melancholia again or something.

Final Notes:
 - Captain fucking magic.

2 comments:

  1. I got this on DVD a long time ago, watched it but couldn't get my head around it. I was probably too young at the time or not concentrating enough. There seemed to be too much dialogue and not enough action. When you watch 'Iron Man 3' by the same director, you're also so overwhelmed by dialogue, none of the witty remarks actually penetrate. The same goes for 'KKBB' and yet I've always been attracted to watching it again. I lost the DVD somewhere, but I'm enticed to pick up another copy now that I'm older. Thanks!

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    1. Yeah I'd definitely recommend trying this movie again, it was just a really fun time for me. The weird thing is I almost didn't write this review because I felt there wasn't anything I wanted to say about it. It just worked. I thought the story and the way it was told were really original and enjoyable. Thanks for your comments as always!

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