Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

“Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” was a nickname given to James Bond by Japanese audiences. Oh, the trivia I know. There was actually talk of making Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang the title of the fourth movie. They went so far as to write a theme song and record it. On the 30th Anniversary “Best Of James Bond” soundtrack that I have, there are two recorded versions. One by the inestimable Ms. Shirley Bassey and one by Dionne Warwick. Bassey’s version kicks Warwick’s ass. The music to the song was composed by John Barry and as such is classier than anything you’ll see in the recent movie that appropriated the title.

Like the movie’s plot, my criticism is really just a bunch of half-formed thoughts that pile together but don’t really connect. For one, I don’t actually dislike movies in which the characters talk in movie cliche. But I don’t like it when characters switch between very real-sounding conversation and total macho cliche. Sure, most of the time Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is satirizing those cliches, but I still have to sit through them saying it.

I didn’t really care about Harry (Robert Downey Jr.’s character). He’s a petty thief who moves to California for some movie work. Hm, could you make him more unlikeable? Why don’t you have him run for office so he’s like a trinity of pure crappiness? I like a little tension between what you know a character should do and what they actually do. With Harry, he was already so beyond reasonable action that there was no tension to draw me in.

And why was he such a prude? We don’t know anything about him except how his last botched robbery turned into a movie gig, but when he meets some chick he knew in high school, he’s all concerned about how she’s living her life even though he says that in high school she slept with everyone but him. Huh. Hard to believe that moving to Hollywood at 17 didn’t cure her sluttiness isn’t it Harry?

Then there’s the bizarre plot that, once set in motion, is pretty entertaining. But it takes too long to get revved up and then there are several lapses in the action that knock you out of the motion. Then there are the occasional nods to pop culture but not enough to keep you chuckling. There are plenty of funny scenes and Val Kilmer pretty much steals every one he’s in, but the whole movie is jumbled.

On the other hand, I am a giant wet blanket. Lil’ Smell really liked it. She said there were several times when it hinted at suckiness but didn’t actually get there. So take my criticism with a grain of salt. It’s certainly more entertaining than any Ben Affleck movie. It contains the bon mot “wetter than Drew Barrymore in a grunge club” and it’s definitely unpredictable. And, of course, it’s named after an obscure James Bond reference.

UPDATE: Lil’ Smell wanted me to clarify that she said the movie was “awesome in a made for TV movie on the USA network on a rainy Sunday with a plate of nacho’s [sic] kind of way.”