MOVIE MOVIE REVIEW REVIEW
I’d like to make a plea to all the aspiring filmmakers out there: Please don’t see “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”. I know you want to. I know Shane Black — your hero, your Salinger, your Jesus — is back, and that you’re dying to see what he’s been up to. I know it will be an orgasmic experience for you just to bask in the glow of his seven-figure-paycheck-earning greatness. When I saw it, many of you were in the crowd laughing your asses off and simultaneously plotting out your next screenplay in your head. And that’s exactly why we need you to avoid seeing this. For the future of cinema, please, stay away from this film.
To everyone else, I fully recommend going. “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” is the first great movie to come out in eons. Well, okay, maybe it’s not that good. But it’s the first movie worthy of hyperbole in at least a few months.
It’s nice to see Shane Black back, because he has a lot to atone for, since he ruined movies and everything. Okay, so he ruined movies the same way Steven Spielberg and Quentin Tarantino did, by mastering a b-grade genre so well that he inspired countless people less talented than him to imitate him. But whatever cinematic pleasures Shane Black has given us in the past are more than overshadowed by all the bad movies we’ve had jammed down our throats by Shane Black wannabes desperate to cook up their own “Lethal Weapon” franchise.
In this movie, Black uses a sarcastic, self-aware narrator who makes Hollywood in-jokes and chastises himself whenever he screws up the storytelling. It’s very funny, but it’s not like he invented this. He’s doing a slight twist on the standard film noir voice-over. To his minions, however, it will seem revelatory. It’s the kind of gimmick that can be immensely entertaining in the right hands. And when done well, it also seems very easy to do. Aspiring filmmakers, please be aware when you see this movie that you’re watching the work of a talented professional. For all our sakes, please don’t try this at home.
Because it’s a Shane Black movie, there also has to be a vaguely homoerotic male duo at the center. Only this time, it’s a lot less vague, because one of them is actually gay. We know this because his character’s name is “Gay Perry”, and I would be willing to bet that it was actually printed that way in the script over every line of his dialogue. This isn’t the kind of movie where a character just happens to be gay, either. This being a Shane Black film, Gay Perry’s homosexuality is like his superpower. It’s a factor in every single thing his character says and everything that is said about him, and more than once, he uses it as a tool to get him out of trouble or to thwart the bad guys. In the climactic scene — okay, I won’t ruin it, but let’s just say being gay saves the day.
All the gay stuff is too silly to be offensive, and I get the feeling Black meant it to be progressive. I’m sure he’ll be stunned when it fails to win him any honors from GLAAD. But it won’t get him in any trouble either, and it’ll probably do more to make gay people seem cool than a thousand afterschool specials ever could.
The plot of this film is utterly confusing, and when I walked out of the theater, I was still trying to piece together exactly what had happened — which is to say that Black totally nails the storytelling techniques of film noir. I’ve never understood one of those damn movies, but it’s rare that I find any of them half as entertaining as this one.
Oh, and Robert Downey Jr. is fantastic. But you already knew that.
Ultimately, “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” is the kind of movie made by someone who loves movies and who makes his love contagious.
And that’s exactly that contagion that I’m afraid of.