Apr 16, 2010

[Movies] Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)There are many aspects to telling a story through movies and it's always the challenge of directors to play around with the conventional. Sure, one can go direct and just follow along the established patterns of beginning, rising action, climax and all that while others still decide to break the norms and go into a completely different direction.

Thus we get movies where you start right before the end and then go back to the start as a flashback of sorts or you get stories told repeatedly but from different character perspectives. You can have movies told from the perspective of a the villain or from the average person who is not at all the center of the action. You get stories that are told from a noble narrator who adds amusing commentary to everything that the protagonist accomplishes and so on and so on and so on.

All good movie-goers crave this kind of innovation in tale-crafting and thus such movies should ultimately be rewarded in their own right.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is an alternative crime / mystery story that is clearly a homage to the crime thrillers of the past and yet something more. It helps that the story is narrated by one of the characters in a metafictional manner that regularly seems to break the proverbial fourth wall between the viewer and the characters.

Robert Downey, Jr.Image via Wikipedia

The movie is centered around our narrator Harry (Robert Downey, Jr.), a petty thief who finds himself becoming the next big Hollywood star after stumbling into an audition while on the run. In order to prepare him for his first on-screen role, he is mentored by private detective "Gay Perry" (Val Kilmer). Things start to get interesting when at a party he bumps into an old crush from high school, Harmony (Michelle Monaghan). Somehow this singular encounter leads to an unusual series of events that have the trio ensnared in a complex mysteries involving a number of deaths, dead bodies appearing in bathrooms and a derringer hidden in a most interesting location.

I really enjoyed how Harry's narrations would routinely seem to talk to the viewer directly, including when the movie gets "paused" or sent back to a prior point in the story in order to satisfy his narrative desires. It makes the whole thing really sound like how a friend might relate a story to you including all those bits that they initially forget about but remember later on. It was a nice plot device and while not necessarily new, was executed quite well indeed.

The story in itself is interestingly complicated in a way that borders on being confusing and yet only humorously so. One definitely gets that feeling that as much as it seems to be a serious murder mystery, it's also trying to poke fun at the genre and showing just how strange some of the twists can turn out to be. For some it might help to keep notes but overall one shouldn't put too much focus on that and just try to enjoy the ride.

Robert Downey, Jr. was perfect for the role of Harry, as he seems to channel the whole neurotic character persona quite well. Plus Val Kilmer's normally low-key acting style also worked very well with the cool, calm and collected nature of Gay Perry. Plus yeah, I got a kick out of how he portrayed the "gay" aspect without being campy or whatever.

Don't get me wrong, this is not the most amazing movie in the world and its generous store of intricacies sometimes gets the better of it, resulting in some rather awkward moments in the story. There are points that appear to be red herrings in terms of the mystery but in hindsight seem more like moments of confusion in the storytelling that were just slips on the part of the writers or the director.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a fun, alternative dark comedy in the crime mystery style that deserves at leasty one viewing in your lifetime. It gets 3.5 dark moments of comedic irony out of a possible 5.

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