DISMEMBERCEMBER: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey Jr.) has unintentionally won a screen test when he shows remorse for a past crime. This convinces casting director Dabney Shaw (Larry Miller) that he’s a method actor and ready to head out to Los Angeles. At a party thrown by Harlan Dexter (Corbin Bernsen), who has recently come to terms with his daughter Veronica over his wife’s inheritance, he meets the man who is to prepare him for the role he’s been hired for, Perry van Shrike (Val Kilmer) and also runs into someone he’s been in love with since he was seven, Harmony Faith Lane (Michelle Monaghan).

And then things get weird.

Partially based on the Brett Halliday novel Bodies Are Where You Find Them, Shane Black was on a downward slide when he wrote this, suffering through the failure of The Long Kiss Goodnight and a rejection letter from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He tried to get away from action and worked on a romantic comedy, but ended up back where he started. However, this was an attempt to reimagine the detective genre, using the spirit of the 1950s and 1960s yet modern characters. For example. Perry is gay, but Black wanted in include his sexuality as he had never seen “the gay guy who kicks down the door, shoots everyone, and bails your ass out before.”

Originally titled You’ll Never Die in This Town Again, this was the movie that showed Hollywood that Downey was ready to be a star again. He has said that this movie was “in some ways the best film I’ve ever done.” As for Kilmer, well, he missed doing comedy.

I loved everything about this movie, which is because, well, I love everyone in it. And I love Shane Black. This is the first movie he directed and he was asked by Empire, why is it set, like nearly all of his movies, over the holidays? He answered: ““I really wanted to set it at Christmas. At the time, I wasn’t even thinking about it. It seemed natural, because I hadn’t done a film at that time for quite some years. And there was no hesitation because I went with Joel Silver, and we’d already done a Christmas movie together with Lethal Weapon. Even Last Action Hero was a Christmas movie. So it was, why not? And Christmas helped a lot. The idea of this lonely guy in a brand new city at Christmas, wandering. It’s a bizarre, ironic take on Christmas in LA. It’s not Christmassy at all, except it’s, “There are miracles to find if you look closely enough for them.” Harry even says, “Last Christmas, we kind of changed the world,” meaning “We actually did something at Christmas that a) mattered and b) was impossible.” It was one of my favorite things to work on.”

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