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Although generally overlooked by most of the American public (due to a somewhat limited release), KISS KISS BANG BANG ($28) is definitely one of my favorite films of 2005. Written and directed by Shane Black (of LETHAL WEAPON fame), KISS KISS BANG BANG is a wonderfully witty, comic crime drama that takes the noir-ish conventions of the genre and turns them upside down with healthy does of self-referential humor, a jaundiced look at Hollywood types and a desire to break the fourth wall, thanks to the leading character’s clever narration.

The plot of KISS KISS BANG BANG follows petty crook Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey Jr.) to Lalaland, where he is to be auditioned for a lead role in a cop movie. As preparation for his Hollywood audition, Harry is given "detective lessons" by a hardboiled homosexual private investigator known as Gay Perry (Val Kilmer). Of course, a routine surveillance job turns into a murder investigation that sucks in our hapless hero and gay gumshoe- thanks to an ever-increasing body count. Adding more fuel to the fire of Harry’s Hollywood adventure is a reunion with the girl of his youthful dreams, namely Harmony Faith Lane (Michelle Monaghan), whom he hasn’t seen since high school. The cast of KISS KISS BANG BANG also features Corbin Bernsen, Dash Mihok, Larry Miller, Rockmond Dunbar, Shannyn Sossamon, Angela Lindvall and Nancy Fish.

Warner Home Video has made KISS KISS BANG BANG available on DVD in a 2.35:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. Producing a crisp, clean and sharply defined picture, this is another marvelous transfer from Warner. Colors are very bright, richly saturated and the image offers attractive flesh tones. Blacks are deep and the whites pure. Contrast is terrific, as is the level of shadow detail. The film elements are virtually pristine and very little grain is apparent. Digital compression artifacts are never a cause for concern.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack is another winner. Although KISS KISS BANG BANG is quite talky, there are a few sequences where the sound mix effectively engages all of the outlying channels. Those couple of shoot em’ ups and squealing tire moments are especially well put together. Fidelity is quite strong, with the music having a good sense of presence and the sound effect being completely convincing. Voices are cleanly reproduced and the dialogue maintains complete intelligibility. French 5.1 channel and Spanish Surround Sound tracks are also encoded onto the DVD, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few extras. Actors Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr., as well as writer/director Shane Black are on hand for a running audio commentary. A Gag Reel and Theatrical Trailer close out the extras.

As I stated above KISS KISS BANG BANG is one of this reviewer’s favorite films of 2005, not to mention, what I think to be one of the best films of that very same year. As expected, Warner’s DVD looks great and sounds just fine. If you like cop/buddy movies, well written screenplays or are a fan of Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer KISS KISS BANG BANG is a must see. Highly recommended.



Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang (Widescreen Edition) (2005)



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2006 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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