this brief. This isn’t a requiem or a review. It’s just me taking a moment to
say that if you live near one of the 169 screens now showing Kiss
Kiss Bang Bang and you haven’t yet seen it, you’re missing an opportunity. Not just to see a good
movie; this season is full of those. But anyone who doesn’t see this movie
before it quietly appears on DVD is skipping out on the chance to be in on the
ground floor for the formation of a cult classic.
the people who revere The Big Lebowski didn’t see it
during the initial run. Check the numbers — it’s just not possible. That’s a
movie that’s gained ground on video, where tiny audiences can watch it over and
over. They can get past the fact that the plot doesn’t mean much; that the
film’s incredible charm is in watching the characters interact. What I’m
getting at here (if it’s not obvious) is that Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is
the new Big Lebowski.
that phrase, like ‘pumice is the new black’, but sometimes there’s no way
around it. I’ve seen Kiss Kiss three times (well, two and
a half to be honest, just in case anyone read my Toronto coverage)
and it gets better every time. And this is a brilliantly funny movie the first
time. Most comedies force audiences to sit through an uncomfortable silence
after a gag; that’s where the audience is supposed to be laughing, but never
actually is. Shane Black’s flick is exactly the opposite; every time I’ve seen
it I’ve missed lines because people were howling over them.
as a friend said to me last night, those are strong words. Not just anything
can be ‘the new Lebowski’. Not even any movie the Coen Brothers have made
since. (My next editorial will be a call-out to form a support group for people
who saw The Ladykillers.) And of course, this movie is a whole lot more than that; it’s entirely it’s own thing.
But if it was in the running to be the next anything, Kiss
Kiss has the goods. It’s got tremendously fun, wonderful characters
that you haven’t seen before. It’s got Val Kilmer giving the performance that
will knock loose whatever you used to consider his defining role. (Thank
jeebus. Now I can finally stop thinking ‘I drank what?’ every time I see
him.) Opposite Kilmer, Robert Downey Jr. creates the sort of slack, likable
asshole that a thousand monkeys working on typewriters would love to create,
not to mention an industry full of actors.
And as in
the Coen’s classic, the mess they get into is almost entirely incidental, even
if it does provide material for enough jokes to fill three Wedding Crashers sequels. (Those sequels wouldn’t have the balls to tell some of these jokes, anyway.) In
fact there exist a fairly amazing number of similarities between this and
Lebowski, but I’ll leave that to some other internet writer. Besides, I don’t
want to spoil anything.
dissuaded by tepid reviews or the fact that even the ‘wide’ opening was limited
to a paltry ninety additional screens. This morning I looked briefly at the
reviews, and the consensus is ‘good acting, but a hollow and unconvincing take
on Hollywood noir’. A couple even mention Lebowski as positive examples of
this sort of movie done right. Then I went and looked at old Lebowski
reviews. Many say the same thing, only Lebowski is never
mentioned as an example of the genre done right. We all know how that one turns
it turns out that it’s not a genre film at all, just like this movie. Both are just fun films that use genre as much as it uses everything else.)
So go see
Kiss Bang Bang. It’s already the Arrested Development of cinema for
2005, but it doesn’t have to go down without a fight. See the movie. You will
laugh. I guarantee it. Even better, in five years when your friends and cousins
and the guy working the burger joint down the street are quoting it and talking
about what a great fucking movie it is, you’ll be able to say you were there.
And then Shane Black can do it again.