Cover Art/Menu: 8/10
The cover is one of my favorites in a long time. It’s got personality, some artsy quality about it, and still manages to get those Hollywood stars on there. The film is quirky and original, so I’m glad they took the time to get a touch of that flavor on the cover of the DVD.
The menu is pretty boring, just a still background with all the live action clips in the trailer running in a loop. There’s nothing special here, which is too bad considering the groovy opening credits they could have used for inspiration.
What features? I can’t say much about a gag reel and a commentary. It’s the bare bones of what a DVD can offer a die hard collector these days. This movie is so much fun and so cool, I just want to know more about how it was put together.
The Movie: 8/10
I’ve looked into the process of writing a movie script. I have read lots of how-to books and articles online. They all have rules to follow and tell you what producers and studios will never ever go for. A lot of what they say NOT to do is splattered all over Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. That’s what I love about it. It’s quirky and funny, with a touch of self indulgent bullshit, but who’s counting.
The story is a bit convoluted at times, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem when you have line after line of interesting dialogue, scene after scene of bizarre action, and some pretty ding dang good performances to keep you busy.
A theft accidentally is mistaken for an actor and is swept away to Hollywood where he then takes it upon himself to show us, and narrate for us, the strangeness that is tinsel town. From bashing superficially laced parties to reminding us of all the lost hopes and dreams of so many young people who go to LA with big plans. Some scenes attempt to give us some grit, but it’s always balanced by some farcical pay off in the end. His journey from criminal to fake detective, to romantic leading man, has that anti-hero smell about it, which is always more interesting than straight-up good guy who has no dark side or struggles to overcome. Harry isn’t charming or particularly heroic, but at the heart he’s a gentleman, he’s honest (except for the burglary stuff in his past) and he’s more brave then he knows. It’s the kind of character you root for but you’re never really sure what he’s gonna do next, which I like.
As I watched I was torn between thinking it was one of those movies where they were stringing you and the leading character along and at some point all the bizarre things that happen are explained away with that guffaw at the end like the jokes on you kind of thing. Then, it turns me around and the murder mystery thriller plot kept me scratching my head to figure out, while trying desperately not to miss one second of dialogue or action. Exhausting. At the front of every scene is Downey, Kilmer, and Monaghan, their full throttle performances kept me entertained and captivated. Behind them was the story and peripheral action. Even hanging by the hand of a corpse dangling from a coffin atop a billboard over traffic, it’s Downey’s reactions and personality I kept my eyes on. It’s a very performance driven while giving us some outrageous circumstances to keep up with.
The tale that’s told is second to the people and their relationships to one another. Like I said, that’s against all the rules. Everything is supposed to drive the story, but with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, the story is the backdrop. “They say never use a narrator, it’s lazy and if your characters’ dialogue and behavior can’t tell the story, well, then your story ain’t there. Well, they toss that aside and for a good portion of the movie we get Downey’s cheeky voice and somewhat overly actorly accounts of what we are seeing.
This isn’t conventional or standard in any way. Kilmer isn’t what you might expect. Downey is totally into it, even if he does have a tendency to over do things sometimes, I love his commitment to even the smallest of reactions. Monaghan is great fun to watch and holds her own up against these two mega movie stars. She’s not cutesy, or coy, even though she could be considering who she’s up against. She delivers the comedy and the bits of pain with enough heart to not fade into “pretty actress purgatory”.
This movie’s got that feeling of rebelling against the machine. It’s like they wrote a script and made a movie to break the rules in a bit of a snub to the system. Because they had Kilmer and Downey in the recipe it made it valid enough to bring to the big screen. That’s ok with me, as long as we get one of these surprises every once in a while I’ll take them how ever they come.
This is a good movie. I loved it. I just don’t think the DVD is worth the $20 price tag. If they had added a few more extras it would rank out of the $10 range, but as it is, it’s just a cool movie and a commentary, not much value for the money. Rent it and hope for a special edition someday with lots of eccentric behind the scenes stuff with Kilmer and Downey:)
Overall Score 7/10