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Laramie Movie Scope:
Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang

A raucous send-up of a detective movie

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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May 12, 2006 -- “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang” is a very funny send-up of hard-boiled L.A. detective movies like “L.A. Confidential” and “Chinatown.” Unlike those films, this one is not serious at all, despite all the murders, blood and mutilations. It is chock-full of wisecracks and movie in-jokes. For instance in one scene, in which one of the movie's main characters survives a near-fatal shooting, the narrator, (Robert Downey Jr. of “Good Night and Good Luck”) points out that the character's survival is a detective movie cliché and to drive home the point, Elvis and Abraham Lincoln appear on screen, also alive.

Downey stars as would-be detective, petty thief and would-be actor Harry Lockhart. On the run from the law, Lockhart stumbles into an audition for a detective role and gets embroiled in a homicide investigation with Hollywood detective and mentor Gay Perry (Val Kilmer of “Alexander”). Lockhart meets up with an old high school flame, Harmony Faith Lane (Michelle Monaghan of “Constantine”). Even though he's not really a detective, he agrees to investigate a missing persons case for her only because he's been carrying a torch for her since the Los Angeles Olympics. To no one's surprise it turns out that Lockhart's and Perry's seemingly unrelated cases are found to be intimately related, and the film points out that this is yet another cliché.

The narrator, Downey, addresses the audience not only about what's happening with the plot, but about the inadequacies of this particular genre of movies. The actual murder mystery turns out to be incredibly complex and the plot is comically convoluted. There really is no point to the plot. This film is more about the delight of the journey than it is about the destination. Written and directed by Shane Black, a first-time director and long-time writer, this movie displays irreverent daring and is delightfully playful. For instance, Black has fun with narrated flashbacks. Sometimes the narrator will leave out some important point in the flashback, and it will have to be “rewound” and played again with the new information, while the narrator apologizes for being such a bad storyteller. The narrator sometimes uses this opportunity to point out how seemingly unrelated scenes actually do advance the story. It is just another way that Black makes fun of some traditional movie conventions.

Black has never been afraid to make fun of himself and Hollywood. This spoof does both. It reminded of another similar irreverent film a few years ago, “Scream,” which was filled with horror movie in-jokes. “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang” rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2006 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)