Watching the detectives: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Petty thief Harry Lockhart stumbles into an audition while trying to evade the police and finds himself jetting off to L.A. where he shows his face at a Hollywood party, meets gay P.I. Perry van Shrike aka “Gay” Perry and gets caught up in a murder plot.

I’d bought this on my younger brother’s recommendation but, truth be told, wasn’t really expecting much, just your average dumb Hollywood buddy movie. How wrong I was! This is a gem of a film that manages to work as a detective movie, a comedy and an insightful jab at the fakeness of Tinsel Town.  It’s also got some politically incorrect humour which scores it another plus point.

Michelle Monaghan does well as Downey’s love interest come femme fatale while Val Kilmer has a ball as the tough as nails gay detective. This is Downey’s film though and he knows it, from the comical voice over to some gross out comedy, he’s perfect. Lockhart’s a nice guy whose heart is in the right place even if the rest of him usually isn’t and thanks to Downey we’re rooting for him to make good.

Shane Black disappeared for about 10 years after The Long Kiss Goodnight and, whatever he was doing, it was obviously time well spent as this is by far the best thing he’s ever put his name to. Some scenes quite simply left me in awe at the deranged mind that could think this stuff up, the final shoot-out being a case in point. It’s also the first thing he’s directed but hopefully not the last as it’s as visually inventive as the script is literally, with plenty of sight gags as well as Lockhart’s quick fire jibes.

I’d say this does for the detective genre what Scream did for the slasher movie except that really doesn’t do the film justice. I can’t recommend this highly enough, it really is a treasure waiting to be discovered.

If only the UK DVD contained the Downey, Kilmer, Black commentary! That’s one extra I really want to listen to. Damn you Warner’s for short-changing the British film fan!

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