Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a 2005 American neo-noir black comedy crime film written and directed by Shane Black (in his directorial debut), and starring Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer, Michelle Monaghan and Corbin Bernsen. The script is partially based on the Brett Halliday novel Bodies Are Where You Find Them, and interprets the classic hardboiled literary genre in a tongue-in-cheek fashion. The film was produced by Joel Silver, with Susan Levin (Susan Downey a few months later) and Steve Richards as executive producers.
|Kiss Kiss Bang Bang|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Shane Black|
|Produced by||Joel Silver|
|Screenplay by||Shane Black|
|Story by||Shane Black|
|Based on||Bodies Are Where You Find Them|
by Brett Halliday
|Music by||John Ottman|
|Edited by||Jim Page|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Box office||$15.8 million|
Shot in Los Angeles between February 24 and May 3, 2004, the film debuted at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival on May 14, 2005 and was released in the United States on October 21, 2005. It received positive reviews from critics and grossed $15 million worldwide.
At a Los Angeles party, Harold "Harry" Lockhart recounts recent events. Fleeing a botched burglary in New York City, Harry's friend is shot, forcing Harry to evade police by ducking into an audition. Harry unintentionally impresses Dabney Shaw with an outburst of remorse Dabney mistakes for method acting; Dabney takes Harry to Los Angeles to screen test for the role of a private investigator. At a Hollywood party, Harry meets "Gay" Perry van Shrike, an openly gay private investigator, hired to give Harry on-the-job experience for his role. Party host Harlan Dexter is a retired actor who recently resolved a feud over his wife's inheritance with his long-lost daughter, Veronica. Harry also encounters his childhood crush Harmony Lane but wakes up in bed with her hostile friend.
During a stakeout at a Big Bear Lake cabin, Perry and Harry witness a car being dumped in the lake and are spotted by two thugs. Perry realizes there's someone in the trunk and shoots the lock in a rescue attempt, but accidentally hits the female corpse inside. They cannot report the body because it will appear Perry killed her.
Harmony contacts Harry, explaining that her sister Jenna came to Los Angeles, used Harmony's credit cards, then supposedly killed herself. Believing Harry is a detective, Harmony asks him to investigate Jenna's death. After Harmony leaves, Harry discovers the lake corpse in his bathroom. Harry and Perry dump the corpse, later identified as Veronica Dexter by police. Harry discovers it was Harmony's credit card that was used to hire Perry to come to the lake, tying Jenna to their case. He goes to see Harmony, who accidentally slams the door on his finger, cutting it off.
At a party where Harmony is working, the thugs from the lake (Mr. Frying Pan and Mr. Fire) beat Harry and order him to cease the investigation. While taking Harry to the hospital, Harmony sees the thugs heading to Perry's latest stakeout. Realizing that Perry is heading into a trap, she leaves Harry in her car and runs off to warn Perry, with Frying Pan being killed by an armed food-cart operator. A pink-haired girl, affiliated with the thugs, steals Harmony's car and unwittingly drives an unconscious (on pain-killers) Harry to her house. Mr. Fire arrives and kills her; Harry recovers the gun and kills Mr. Fire.
Harmony meets Harry at his hotel where she reveals she had told Jenna, years ago, that Harlan Dexter was her real father, to hopefully diminish the pain of their sexually abusive father. They end up in bed, but just before anything can happen, Harmony reveals she had once slept with Harry's best friend, and he throws her out.
After Harmony disappears following a lead, Harry and Perry investigate a private mental hospital owned by Harlan. Perry realizes Veronica was incarcerated there by Harlan so an impostor could end the inheritance feud. Harry unintentionally kills a murderous orderly, but they are captured by Harlan, who reveals that he plans to cremate his daughter's corpse to remove any remaining evidence. Harry calls Harmony, who had not actually disappeared but had simply gone to work. Harmony steals the van containing the corpse. Harry and Perry escape, but Harmony crashes the van. A shootout ensues, in which Perry and Harry are shot by the same bullet; Harry then manages to kill Dexter and his three thugs.
Waking in a hospital, Harry finds that Perry survived and Harmony is fine. Perry reveals that Jenna did commit suicide. Jenna had located Harlan, believing him to be her real father. She accidentally witnessed him having sex with Veronica's impostor, Pink Hair Girl. Believing her new "father" was also incestuous, Jenna commissioned Perry to catch him in the act, then committed suicide.
Perry travels back to Harmony's hometown and slaps around her father, who is now bed-ridden and helpless, belittling him for being a "big tough guy" when he abused the equally helpless Jenna.
Harry finishes his narration by stating that he is wrapping up the movie, now works for Perry, and thanks the viewers for watching.
- Robert Downey Jr. as Harold "Harry" Lockhart
- Indio Falconer Downey as Harry age 9
- Richard Alan Brown as Teen Harry (uncredited)
- Val Kilmer as "Gay" Perry van Shrike
- Michelle Monaghan as Harmony Faith Lane
- Ariel Winter as Harmony age 7
- Stephanie Pearson as Teen Harmony
- Corbin Bernsen as Harlan Dexter
- Dash Mihok as Mr. Frying Pan
- Larry Miller as Dabney Shaw
- Rockmond Dunbar as Mr. Fire
- Shannyn Sossamon as Pink Hair Girl
- Angela Lindvall as Flicka
- Laurence Fishburne as Bear in Genaros Beer Commercial (uncredited)
Following the bad critical reception of The Long Kiss Goodnight and a rejection letter from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Shane Black decided he would attempt something out of the action genre. Following the example of James L. Brooks, Black attempted to make a romantic comedy, "a quirky story of two kids in L.A." Brooks liked Black's first draft, but felt his later attempts were losing focus. Trying to salvage what he had liked, Brooks suggested Black to imagine Jack Nicholson from As Good as It Gets playing Nicholson's role from Chinatown. This led Black to add action elements - "I said, you know, 'Fuck it. I have to put a murder in it.'" - and rework the screenplay, adding the character of detective "Gay" Perry, who Black said was an attempt to break stereotypes, as he had never seen "the gay guy who kicks down the door, shoots everyone and bails your ass out before." Old detective novels were a major influence, with Black saying he tried to re-invent the genre "using realistic characters, in a modern setting but with the spirit of 1950s and 1960s". The crime plot drew from Brett Halliday's Bodies Are Where You Find Them, and Black homaged Raymond Chandler by splitting the film into chapters named after Chandler's books.
The script, then titled You'll Never Die in This Town Again, was rejected by various studios before Joel Silver, who gave Black his first break producing Lethal Weapon and The Last Boy Scout, decided to help him. The leading role of the now retitled L.A.P.I. had been considered for Benicio del Toro, Hugh Grant and Johnny Knoxville. Robert Downey Jr. learned about the film from his then-girlfriend Susan Levin, who worked as Silver's assistant, and as he finished working with Silver in Gothika, the producer and Black brought him in to audition. Downey was eventually cast as they liked his readings and knew he could fit into the small $15 million budget, as his career had been in a downfall following his time in prison. Levin also suggested to bring in Val Kilmer, who coincidentally had been long interested in making a comedy.
Before principal photography begun, the title became Kiss Kiss Bang Bang because Black felt it was a "blunt and austere title" that described how the plot was "half romantic comedy and half murder mystery." To achieve a neo-noir look, Black screened 1960s films of the genre to cinematographer Michael Barrett and production designer Aaron Osborne, such as Harper and Point Blank. Osborne in particular drew inspiration from the detective book covers by illustrator Robert McGuinness, who was also brought in to draw the covers for the fictional Johnny Gossamer novels that appear in the film. The Hollywood party that opens the film was filmed in Black's own Los Angeles mansion.
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was screened out of competition at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival. The film's premiere happened at the Chinese Theatre on October 17, as the opener of the Hollywood Film Festival. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was released on DVD June 13, 2006.
The film opened on October 21 in the United States, with a limited release. From its release until mid-November, the film's distribution increased every weekend due to its favorable critical reviews. It stayed in release in the United States until early January. The film earned a total of $4,243,756 in the United States. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang grossed far more outside the United States, accounting for just over 70% of the film's worldwide gross, accumulating $11,541,392. The film ended up earning $15,785,148 worldwide, earning back its budget. Downey was disappointed at the low box office intake, but said Kiss Kiss Bang Bang "ended up being my calling card to Iron Man," as his performance attracted director Jon Favreau. That film marked Downey's career resurrection, and Black would even be brought in to co-write and direct the sequel Iron Man 3.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 85% based on 176 reviews, and an average rating of 7.5/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Tongue-in-cheek satire blends well with entertaining action and spot-on performances in this dark, eclectic neo-noir homage." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score 72 out of 100, based on 37 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Mike Russell of The Oregonian observed that "This is one of Downey's most enjoyable performances, and one of Kilmer's funniest. It's a relationship comedy wrapped in sharp talk and gunplay, a triumphant comeback for Black, and one of the year's best movies". Jeff Otto, an IGN critic, wrote that "It takes a bunch of genres and twists them into a blender, a pop relic that still feels current...one of the best times I've had at the movies this year." It was voted "Overlooked Film of the Year" by the 2005 Phoenix Film Critics Society on December 20, 2005.
Roger Ebert's review of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was a mixed 2.5 out of 4 stars. He wrote that the film "contains a lot of comedy and invention, but doesn't much benefit from its clever style. The characters and plot are so promising that maybe Black should have backed off and told the story deadpan, instead of mugging so shamelessly for laughs."
The soundtrack to Kiss Kiss Bang Bang with music by John Ottman was released on October 18, 2005.
|7.||"Harry Smartens Up"||1:48|
|8.||"Dead Girl in Shower"||3:49|
|9.||"Harmony Is Dead?"||1:25|
|11.||"Flashback / Dropping Off Body"||2:38|
|12.||"They Took My Crickets"||1:48|
|14.||"Whoa, Who's This?"||1:38|
|16.||"Doggie Treat / First Kill"||2:09|
|18.||"Harmony Sees a Clue"||1:24|
|21.||"That's the Story"||2:46|
|22.||"Broken" (featuring Robert Downey Jr.)||5:10|
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