Thursday Night Movie Club
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
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Release Date: October 21, 2005

Director: Shane Black
ACTORS:
Robert Downey Jr.
Val Kilmer
Michelle Monaghan
Corbin Bernsen
Dash Mihok
Larry Miller
Rockmond Dunbar
Shannyn Sossamon
Angela Lindvall
Indio Falconer Downey
Ariel Winter
Duane Carnahan
Josh Richman
Martha Hackett
Nancy Fish
CHARACTERS:
Harry Lockhart
Gay Perry
Harmony Faith Lane
Harlan Dexter
Mr. Frying Pan
Dabney Shaw
Mr. Fire
Pink Hair Girl
Flicka
Harry Age 9
Harmony Age 7
Chainsaw Kid
Rickie
Pistol Woman
NY Casting Woman
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang movie poster
Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr. in Kiss Kiss Bang BangAn unabashed homage to the writings of Raymond Chandler, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a verbally quick, action-packed movie. The energy level never subsides. The movie contains all of the elements of the classic Chandler novels. The most creative of these is in the chapter titles used in the movie. They are all taken from the titles of various Chandler novels.

Harry Lockhart (Downey Jr.) is a petty thief. While escaping from the police, he unexpectedly finds himself in a casting call line for a TV show. He breaks down under the pressure of the situation and puts in a classic performance, winning him a chance to audition for the part in Hollywood. Lockhart is assigned to a technical advisor, gay private detective Perry (Kilmer). While working on one of Perry's stakeouts, the pair get more than they bargained for. They inadvertently stumble upon the murder of a young woman. Her dead body is placed in a car trunk and the car sunk in a local pond. She becomes, "The Lady in the Lake".

Meanwhile, Lockhart is working on his own mystery. He is reunited with his long-lost love from his childhood, Harmony Faith Lane (Monaghan). Her troubled sister has just arrived in Hollywood and quickly turns up dead. Lockhart tells her that he is now a private detective. Lane, convinced her sister was murdered, talks Lockhart into investigating her case.

Michelle Monaghan as Harmony Faith Lane in Kiss Kiss Bang BangAnother of Chandler's writing styles concerns the detective working on two seemingly unrelated cases, only to discover that they are the same case. Lockhart has stumbled upon this exact situation.

Another style of Chandler's is the detective's voice over narration. Lockhart constantly narrates over the movie. This helps move the mystery along but some times it becomes extremely annoying.

As with Chandler's novels, they mystery is almost impossible to decipher. The real joy is following along with the detective, listening to his banter. There is no shortage of quick-witted banter here. The three main characters have similar deliveries, often-times speaking over each other. Downey Jr. gets it right as the wannabe actor. As the gay Perry (get the joke?), Kilmer shines as Perry tries to educate Lockhart while at the same time, trying unsuccessfully to convince Lockhart to drop his investigation before he gets hurt. By the time the movie ends, everyone ends up hurt. Most end up dead.

Photo of Robert Downey Jr. and Val KilmerThere is one problem with the screen writing. Too many elements, plot points and characters are ambiguous. Perry tells everyone he is gay. He is never seen with another man. His gayness is more hinted at then shown. This could merely be a clever ploy invented by the character. He can secretly have affairs with married women because everyone knows he is gay. How much does his implied gayness help get him out of tough situations? Is Lockhart set up to take the fall from the moment he stumbles into the casting call in New York? Was this casting call set up to find the perfect patsy to take the fall for the murder? Was Lockhart conveniently in the wrong place at the right time?

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is fast-paced, witty and an exciting detective thriller. The acting, almost exclusively the three main actors, is very good. There are many surprises, unexpected events, accidental/purposeful shootings. The humor blends in perfectly with the suspense. There is an ongoing series of humorous events revolving around a finger. All in all, its a wonderful thrill ride. Enjoy!