Listen to our Kiss Kiss Bang Bang episode on:
Shane Black’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a small movie that made a big impact. Initially only a modest box office success, the movie nevertheless attracted enough strong word of mouth to enjoy a healthy afterlife on DVD, and the critical raves rescued star Robert Downey Jr. from the career doldrums and gave Jon Favreau the confidence to hire him in Iron Man, a franchise Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’s writer-director Black would also later contribute to.
The movie plays out as a curious mix of old Hollywood neo noir and self-referential mid-00s action parody, with Downer Jr. acting as the unreliable narrator who frequently breaks the fourth wall to pass dry comment on convenient plot devices and seemingly extraneous scenes. The story is borderline nonsensical and near-impossible to follow, but the fun is found in the whip-smart dialogue and the highly entertaining central performances – particularly Downer Jr. and Kilmer, whose passive-aggressive chemistry manages to transcend the movie’s occasionally tiresome reliance on gay panic humour.
We were joined on this week’s episode by Chris Johnston of Easy Riders Raging Podcast, a smart, entertaining show dedicated to the classic cinema of the 1960s and 1970s. Together the three of us walk through the movie’s insanely convoluted plot and discuss why the curious genre melding and hairpin tonal shifts that made the movie a tough sell on release might also be its greatest strengths as a modern cult classic.
The episode concludes as all our episodes do with our own proposals for a sequel, prequel or spin-off for the movie. This week, Harry takes a look at the many unlikely coincidences that (just about) hold the plot together and imagines how certain key scenes might have caused the entire film to play out differently, while John deconstructs the movie’s flawed but interesting relationship with homosexuality and guest Chris posits a Rush Hour-inspired location change to add further depth to the character of Val Kilmer’s acid-tongued private investigator.
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Next week we’ll be back with yet another guest and a very different cult favourite of the mid 2000s. Strap on your dancing shoes and always remember to trim your nails…