Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang ★★★

Shane Blacks Kiss Kiss Bang Bang feels very much like a heavily watered down version of his later comedy, and dare I say his masterpiece, The Nice Guys (2016) – although it’s a good, entertaining, and extremely humorous flick, it’s inferior by just a tiny bit in nearly every aspect. To put this all very simply, The Nice Guys is a far more perfected version of this film.

This is not to say Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a bad movie, because it’s certainly not. There's quite a lot to love, and plenty of noteworthy qualities that work to distinguish it from the other swath of bland comedies that were released around the same time. The slick, recognizable style of Shane Black in itself sets Kiss Kiss Bang Bang apart – this is a movie absolutely teeming with energy, perfectly capturing the cool essence of the neo-noir genre while simultaneously parodying it. It’s an example of a film where you can feel the filmmaker behind the camera; it seems Black was very excited to make this movie, and evidently this shines through.

Plus, it’s just got a superb, snappy script loaded to the brim with wit. Each of the characters are established in broad strokes, and the central story (which plays out like a classic and familiar murder-oriented, noir mystery) is equal parts hilarious and enthralling. And then there’s the crisp dialogue, with the lighthearted banter between characters especially shining, proving to easily be the most comical part of the movie. Nevertheless, especially when it's breaking the fourth wall, the whole thing can be a little obnoxious and just a tad bit clunky. I also found the winding, scheme-loaded plot to get a bit unclear and messy at points, although this barely detracted from the experience as a whole considering the film is mostly driven by its comedy.

In parts, the script's success can (and should) be credited to the strong performances. Although Kiss Kiss Bang Bang features only about three titular characters, its strong cast certainly has a few big names. Perhaps the largest of them is Robert Downey Jr, who plays a somewhat typical, snobbily likable RDJ character. Seeing Robert Downey Jr. play his loud yet charismatic usual self in something besides a Marvel film is surprisingly enjoyable, even if he’s really not doing much powerful acting. Val Kilmer is the next in line. He certainly does an effective job portraying the great character of Gay Perry, bringing a serious attitude that perfectly juxtaposes with the kicked-back vibe of RDJ. In fact, it’s when the two are together that Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is probably at its strongest – the duo have some great chemistry, with their performances reflecting one anothers in the best way possible. The same can be said for RDJ and Michelle Monaghan, who excellently portrays the final, likable, main character.

Certainly something different from your stereotypical, 2000s comedies, yet it’s not quite perfect and lacks the polish that I found to make The Nice Guys (2016) so memorable. Still, it’s without a doubt a strong comedy, and a great way to kill some time and get some laughs in. Shane Black should make more films like this, as it seems to be where he particularly does well.

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