Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang
directed by Shane Black
(Warner Bros., 2005)

Don't you hate it when a movie character also serves as the narrator, continually interrupting the film to tell us what he forgot to tell us a minute ago or to throw in general smart remarks? Of course you do. We all do. So why do directors keep doing it? I assume there is supposed to be some level of spoofiness to this film, though, so I'll just leave it at that.

I generally enjoy dark comedies, but I just didn't find Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang to be at all funny. There are plenty of comical situations, but actual moments of comedy are few and far between. Maybe it's just because I don't like Robert Downey Jr. (who, along with all of his well-documented problems, single-handedly ruined Ally McBeal). Then again, maybe I shouldn't complain -- after all, I only watched this movie because Michelle Monaghan looked all kinds of hot in that little Christmas outfit of hers. The problem is that the film tries to be even cuter than Monaghan -- and it's not even close.

So what do we have here? I won't go too deeply into the plot because it's designed to be full of twists and turns. Downey plays Harry Lockhart, a common thief who accidentally auditions for a movie while trying to evade the cops. Next thing you know, ole Harry's in L.A. preparing for his acting debut. While attending a party, he makes a human punching bag of himself for a girl (thereby ensuring he can never return to New York, since they don't let you back in if you get beaten up by Richie Rich); apparently a glutton for embarrassment, he then pursues that same girl, Harmony (Monaghan), later that night, never even realizing -- until she tells him -- that she is the girl he was in love with back in high school.

Let's just pause here for a second. Who in the world would not be able to recognize the girl whose beauty haunted him day and night during his formative years? It's not like 70 years have passed since he's seen her. And don't even get me started on what he does next. But I digress.

Actually, this is where it all starts to get tricky. Harry starts tagging along with the aptly named private eye Gay Perry (Val Kilmer) in preparation for the detective role he's supposed to play, and he quickly finds a lot of things happening in real life that aren't supposed to happen in real life -- such as corpses turning up at the rate of one per hour. The whole thing turns into this huge mess involving Harmony, Gay, several mystery guests and just about everyone Harry's ever met in L.A. With pieces falling into place at odd moments, and plenty of dead ends along the way, expect more twists and turns (and bumps) than you'll find on an old, washed-out mountain road.

To me, the movie just doesn't seem to know what it wants to be. Well, I guess it wants to be a dark comedy, but most of the comedy falls flat, in my opinion. Screwball comedy needs more than just screwballs. I blame the script because the acting really isn't bad. The whole thing's just too cute and obvious for its own good, especially the increasingly irksome narration bits.

by Daniel Jolley
28 October 2006

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