Robert Downey Jr. is one of the most iconic actors working in film today. He has solidified himself in the role of Tony Stark the same way Christopher Reeves did with Clark Kent. But that wasn’t the expectation at first. Jon Favreau had to fight with Marvel to get Downey Jr. in the role that put their studio on the map. Whether it was because of drug problems, legal problems, or relevancy problems, Downey Jr. was a hard sell. However, Favreau fought for him anyway. Why? I like to think Favreau stumbled upon the 2005 SLEEPER Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. A film that was the catalyst for Downey Jr.’s reemergence, but also excellent on it’s own merits.
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a novel adaption from veteran writer and freshman director Shane Black. Don’t know who that is? Well, perhaps you weren’t alive during the late eighties or early nineties and never saw any of the Lethal Weapons, The Long Kiss Goodnight, Last Action Hero, or The Last Boy Scout. Perhaps you only heard of him when he was named as the writer/director of Iron Man 3 and were puzzled by the choice. For the former, I recommend you do some netflixing. For the latter, the notoriously known script Nazi Robert Downey Jr. approved him for Iron Man 3 because of their work together on Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Black just gets Downey Jr.’s voice and vice versa. The Tony Stark we know and love might have been born through this collaboration.
Like The Big Lebowski, it isn’t really the plot that makes Kiss Kiss Bang Bang good. It’s the performances. Robert Downey Jr. is of course great. He’s charming, witty, snarky, and surprisingly moving in some moments. It is hard to have a film with narration, especially not done by Morgan Freeman, that avoids being pretentious and out of place. Downey Jr.’s narration succeeds with that and turns out as one of the most funny and original ones you’ll ever hear. His costars, no matter how small their roles, are solid. None more so than Val Kilmer. This is my favorite Val Kilmer role. Yes, even more than Iceman. Gay Perry is an amazing character that could have easily been botched. However, Kilmer nails every single line he has. His chemistry with Downey Jr. is magnetic. I personally would kill to have a sequel with these two. The greatness of Kilmer’s exchanges with Downey Jr. rivals Jude Law’s and even Gwyneth Paltrow’s.
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a SLEEPER comedy that many moviegoers may have missed. Those that finally do see it, more often than not, come away asking themselves, “Why haven’t I seen this film before?” Watch it…ask yourself that question…then tell me I’m wrong.