The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang (2005)

A rather odd stroll through the mind of uber-screenwriter Shane Black,
the creator of the Lethal Weapon franchise. You know, I really wanted
to love this. I wanted to consider it another PULP FICTION--the buzz
had been just that good. But this noir detective film starring Robert
Downy Jr and Val Kilmer (both terrific) just didn't convince me. The
central conceit is that a small-time thief accidentally becomes an
actor, who then pretends to be a detective in order to dazzle his
childhood sweetheart. fine. And tricky, and very, very smart. The
trouble is that there are no recognizable human beings, and even on its
own terms, any fantasy film must convince an audience that these
characters are who the writer (and in this case, Director) says they
are. Sorry, but Downy's character NEVER acts like a street-wise former
thief. At every turn, he acts, and his internal monologue is that of,
a world-weary Hollywood veteran, spouting "wisdom" that is pure
Tinsel-town psychobabble. There is no consistency--one minute he's
getting his butt kicked by an actor, and in the next, he's pulling off
derring-do like Martin Riggs in "Lethal Weapon." All right--that's the
mythic element at work. But I simply didn't buy it, and I really,
really wanted to. I actually met Black about two months ago, nice guy,
and I wish him luck. But he seems to have no knowledge of human
relationships beyond the kind of Moving Violation Hollywood-style
"romance" that leaves both people feeling jaded and fragile. So sad,
because this is one seriously talented human being. I have to give
"Kiss Kiss" a C+, which is, considering the talent involved, just not

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