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He Said, She Said Review Site

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

What He Said:

He

Harry Lockhart (Robery Downey Jr.) is a small time crook. The movie indicates that he "only" commits petty robbery. Not that it’s a a harmless crime, but what I’m trying to say is he’s not the worst guy in the world. He’s actually very likeable and a decent guy despite his career choice.

One evening, while “working”, he and his partner set off the alarm in the toy store they are robbing. He was trying to get a toy for nice niece. See? Good guy. They flee the scene, but his partner is shot by some woman, who kind of randomly pops up. I think she was the owner, but I wasn’t 100% clear on that. Harry continues on without his partner, but is being chased by the police, so he has to make a decision on the fly.

He runs into a building and bursts into the first room he sees, where he finds himself thrust into the middle of an audition for a movie. The people in the room assume he’s an actor, so they begin to read lines to him. Harry, not wanting to get caught, goes with it. They are impressed by his acting abilities and he is chauffeured around Hollywood parties, being treated as an up-and-coming "it" guy.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

At one of these parties he meets two people. First is Gay Perry, who is a private investigator. The other is Harmony Lane, who is an aspiring actress.

Gay Perry (Val Kilmer) is a private investigator who is serving as a creative consultant for the film  Harry auditioned for; and might be starring in.  He was hired by the producers to take Harry on a ride along and tell him a little bit about what it’s like to be a PI. Perry seems to run in celebrity circles, but also takes his job very seriously.

Harmony Lane (Michelle Monaghan) is an aspiring, but not exactly successful, actress. I’m not sure how she got invited to this party, but she’s there because she’s trying to meet people in order to advance her career. For lack of a better word, she’s networking. She meets Harry at the party, but the two hit it off at a bar, where they meet again a little while after they both left the party. It turns out that they actually known one another. They grew up together actually. Harry always had a crush on her, but she never felt the same. She friendzoned him. They didn’t necessarily hang out a lot, but when they did she used him as a shoulder to cry on. He was one of the girls to her. Whenever she needed to talk about her latest boyfriend, she talked to Harry. They lost track of one another and never saw each other after high school until now.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

So Harry is out with Perry one night, trying to get a feel for the whole private investigator thing, when the two of them witness a crime. A car crashes into a creek and they dive in to rescue the person in the car. A couple of goons then start shooting at them and it’s clear this is no ordinary car accident. They manage to get away from their attackers and decide to part ways.

Things cool off for a little while, but not for too long. Harry  gets into some trouble, involving the crime they witnessed earlier in the movie and Harry decides to give Perry a call. They start poking around for answers and it’s not long before people are trying to kill them. Perry urges Harry to skip town, but Harry can’t walk away from this case; despite the fact that he’s not actually a criminal investigator. Oh yeah, and he’s also agreed to take on a case at Harmony’s request. She hired him to do something involving her lost sister. So now Harmony is also in on the action.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

I’ve wanted to see this movie for a while now and finally decided to check it out a few years ago. I watched it for the first time since then. Bought it too, because it's extremely entertaining. I’'d heard that it was good. Robert Downey Jr. is in it (and he’s awesome), and it was written and directed by Shane Black (who is also kind of awesome). He has directed some fantastic movies over the years.

This movie is loosely based on an old mystery novel. There’s actually a series of novels in the movie that Harmony loves that are, what I imagine to be, very similar to the novel this movie is based on. They are old-school crime noir stories with a dash of black comedy. That accurately sums up this movie as well. I can’t say I’ve read a lot of old mystery books or even seen similar types of movies, but you can totally understand and appreciate the tone and feel of them in the many modern movies that pay homage to them. This is a modern crime noir comedy.

I personally dug it and I dug it a lot. Comedies don’t have to have great stories to be funny. Comedies can be completely off the wall, but if they are funny it doesn’t matter that the storyline is ridiculous. Anchorman and Step Brothers are good examples of that. These movies don’t have much in the way of a story, but if they’re funny so you forgive then. But I’ll be damned if a comedy with a coherent and entertaining story isn’t extremely enjoyable to watch. There’s simply something appealing about a comedy that tries. The story is interesting. The world this takes place in is both seedy (great for a crime story) and interesting. And while I wouldn’t call this an action movie, the action in the movie isn’t stupid. The movie doesn’t phone it in in that department. Every element of this movie that isn’t comedic offers elements that would be very viable in crime dramas or an action flick. Not only do I respect that, I appreciate it; especially when coupled with rapid fire and witty jokes. Movies like that have it all.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Robert Downey Jr. Val Kilmer, and Michelle Monaghan have absolutely fantastic chemistry. Robert Downey Jr.’s character is a criminal, but a total wuss. He’s not really cut out for the seedy underworld of LA. He’s a fish out of water, despite being a criminal himself. Val Kilmer is used to this environment, so they are an excellent odd couple. He also happens to be gay, which adds another element. I am 100% pro-gay rights, but there’s something about a him that is hilarious. He's mix of a tough guy and stereotypical flamboyant gay. He’s a tough due - tougher than Harry - but can be very stereotypically gay when he lets his guard down. He has this small gun for example. It’s small enough to safely slip into your sock...or somewhere else very small. It’s only good for a shot or two. It’s the kind of gun you keep stashed on you that the bad guys don’t know about and when they least expect it, you take that one shot that could save your life. He literally calls it his fag gun. This is hilarious to me. The banter between the two characters is quite funny; as is the back-and-forth between Harry and Harmony. They are all just wonderful to watch.

Shane Black is also an excellent writer. He writes some very witty stuff. He’s also not afraid to be outright goofy at times. I haven’t seen everything he’s done, but I like a lot of his work. I can’t describe it other than I like the way his movies make me feel. They are funny and make me smile. Even the more action centric stuff is sprinkled with a lot of humor. I think he’s a very talented guy and I’m so happy he was put back on the map with Iron Man 3.
My only complaint about the movie is that the humor and dialogue can be so rapid fire that can miss stuff if you are not on your game. I was watching the movie by myself, so I would rewind stuff when I felt I needed to, but this doesn’t work if you are watching with friends and family.

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on February 7, 2015. It was updated on January 24, 2021.