Jacob Gehman’s review published on Letterboxd:
I've been meaning to rewatch Kiss Kiss Bang Bang for a while now, and the past few days I've seen a lot of reviews for it randomly pop up on my feed. I'm not one to specifically look for signs to point me in the right direction, but at a certain point I just have to be like, "Fine, Jesus, I get the message." Which is why I rewatched this, rather than go to bed like I should have.
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is supposed to feel like an old pulp mystery novel that you could buy for a single coin back in the good ol' days. Being that's never been my go-to genre of literature (Agatha Christie is as close as I got, and she's not close to this at all), I can't say how well Kiss Kiss Bang Bang feels like an old pulp mystery novel. But appearance is often better than reality, so whatever--this feels like an old pulp mystery novel, whether or not an old pulp mystery novel feels like this.
Poor Harry (Iron Ma... ahem, Robert Downey Jr.) is a common crook who accidentally finds himself in front of a Hollywood suit at an audition. Duly impressed with Harry's acting (he wasn't acting), the suit brings him to Hollywood for a chance to actually score the role. But none of that matters because this is a movie about murder, mayhem, and some light breakage of the fourth wall.
We skooze about Hollywood parties. We slither amid the underbellied muck in between. And through this we are led by Perry (Batma... ahem, Val Kilmer), a detective tasked with getting this new "actor" up to speed on the nuance of his potential role. As the plot skews more and more absurd, he's our anchor to sanity--a voice of reason amid the clusterfuck.
And we dive into sexual tensions as Harry encounters Harmony (Wonder Woma... ahem, Michelle Monaghan), an old friend/crush from his hometown. Monaghan gives off this disarming Emma Stone vibe (disarming because she's not Emma Stone) and somehow manages to match Downey Jr. at, well.. you know how Downey has this ability to be both prickly and earnest at the same time? Monaghan stands up to such a character without folding.
But the real reason Kiss Kiss Bang Bang succeeds is the sense of camaraderie between the main cast. Even when they hate each other you end up loving it because, damn! they're just good together.
Sure, there is stylistic flair that gives Kiss Kiss Bang Bang this sort of neon glow (without being obnoxiously aesthetic). It's a funny movie. It has a script that puts everyone in position to succeed. But when you boil it all down, these are characters that interact well and drive the drama, drive the humor--they drive everything that matters.