Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a really interesting movie, but also a very funny one. I had wanted to see it for a long time, due to both my love for Shane Black scripted movies when I was a teenager, but also because I enjoyed Iron Man 3 so much. And I had heard only good things about this one, so I was eager to see it. Overall, my expectations weren’t quite met as the plot is such a mess. But the dialogue is as great as you would expect from a 100% Shane Black movie, Robert Downey Jr. is really good and I laughed out loud several times, which not many movies achieve these days. There are some jokes that are so well done, not just the snappy dialogue, but also some physical comedy that is just great. Michelle Monaghan really surprised me in her role, too. If the plot was more coherent, this would have been a really amazing movie.
Two things I really loved about the movie. First its use of meta-fiction to play with movie and genre conventions. This must be one of the most meta-fictional movies I have ever seen. Its main character, Harry (Robert Downey Jr.), narrates the movie and directly addresses the audience. On top of that, he not only narrates, but also comments on specific scenes, the structure or the characters, all the time making it perfectly clear that we are watching a movie, which is the whole point of meta-fiction. As I have said before, I loved meta-fiction so much because it challenges us to think about what we are seeing, to pull back the curtain and see what is behind it, which to me is the very basis for any change or revolutionary idea. Here, Harry several times stops the movie to reconsider what has just happened, challenging the viewer to think about it, to see if we agree. Actors are pushed out of frame by the narrator and in one great moment, the happy ending of many movies is parodied (I was reminded of Interstellar’s hospital reunion scene there). In the brilliant last scene Harry and Perry (Val Kilmer) sit in front of the camera, talking to the audience, telling them what to when the movie is over, to watch the credits (I support that!) and tell them goodbye.
Another aspect I liked is the treatment of gender in the movie. Harmony (Michelle Monaghan) is a great female character, self-confident, funny, flawed. She gets some action scenes by herself, has lots of initiative and motivation and never needs to be rescued by a male hero. The best part is when she treats sex as a tool, a female cliché, and Harry lectures her about it. Literally, he tells her that being exploited by a man is something serious and she should respect herself enough for that. Man, hearing something like that in a Hollywood movie, seriously expressed is just great. If only Harry wasn’t so homophobic (why?), the movie would be a shining example of how you should treat gender and clichés.