November 4, 2005

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang

kisskissShane Black has returned to the genre he reinvented in the 1980s -- the buddy action comedy -- with this funny, violent, densely-packed directing debut, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Hapless crook Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey Jr.), accidentally immersed into the Hollywood machine, is plunged into a classic Chandler-style murder mystery, involving his hometown crush-turned-aspiring actress Harmony (a breakout performance from Michelle Monaghan) and a gay private detective (Val Kilmer, in his first comedy since Real Genius). The dialog is rapid-fire, the mystery tortuous and satisfying, and the violence is slightly gratuitous but creative, in other words, a typical Shane Black screenplay (see Lethal Weapon 1 and 2, The Last Boy Scout, The Last Action Hero, and The Long Kiss Goodnight) .

This movie is good enough to be a big hit, even if it is lacking all the ingredients to be a big box office success: it doesn't have the kind of box office stars which make the youth of America come to the theater (which is ridiculous), and it's rated R (which is supposed to keep kids away from the language, violence and sexuality/nudity). The nearest comparison would be the success of Pulp Fiction, although Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang is unlikely to be a Oscar-winner and cultural icon. (West Newton Cinema)