Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Anyway, by now you may wonder how I wound up here. Or, maybe not. Maybe you wonder how silly putty picks shit up from comic books. The point is, I don't see another goddamn narrator, so pipe down.

'Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a World of Snark comedy-Film Noir. The story is a parody of pulp detective novels set in the modern Hollywood entertainment scene. The film was a critical success, but a box-office bomb.

The film centers around--and is narrated by--Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey, Jr.), a down-on-his-luck thief who is mistaken for a method actor by a couple of movie producers after he barges into their auditions while fleeing from the cops. They send him to to Hollywood for a screen test where he encounters private eye "Gay" Perry (Val Kilmer) and Harmony Faith Lane (Michelle Monaghan), his childhood crush from his own hometown. Perry is supposed to give Harry a few basic detective lessons to make him more believable in his role, but their very first job together sees them witnessing a murder and the dumping of the body.

With a lot of bad luck, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and through several cases of mistaken identity, Harry finds himself embroiled in a real life murder-mystery... just like the pulp novels he used to read as a kid. Applying what he knows from his reading, Harry attempts to be the good guy for once, get the girl, and live happily ever after.

Tropes used in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang include:

Perry: Did your dad love you?
Harry: Only when I dressed up like a beer bottle, how about you?
Perry: Well, he used to beat me in Morse code, so it's possible, but he never said the words.

Harry: Fuck this. Corpses, guys in masks, people kissing...people; this is wrong.

  • Badass Bystander - When Perry is attacked by a Mook in a park, he is saved the trouble of a gunfight when a hot dog vendor pulls out a handgun and blows the Mook away. Apparently the vendor didn't appreciate it when the Mook drove his car into the hot dog stand.
  • Badass Gay: Perry.
  • Bedmate Reveal: Harry and Harmony's friend.
  • Better Than a Bare Bulb - The Disney Death scene is a perfect example.

Harry: Yeah, it's a dumb movie thing, but what do you want me to do, lie about it?

  • Black Comedy - bordering on Dead Baby Comedy
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall - Harry's narration is conscious of the fact that he's narrating a film. In the end, Harry and Perry suddenly address the audience.
  • Buffy-Speak - Almost every time Harry has to explain something.
  • Bury Your Gays - Averted Trope.
  • Butt Monkey - If someone is going to get smacked, tortured, beaten up or otherwise mangled, it's going to be Harry. No one else is even allowed to get shot near him without the bullet hitting him, too. Every single time. Slightly lampshaded.

Mook: You look chilly. Come back inside.
Perry: Actually, I'm from back East. I'm kinda diggin' the cold.
Mook pistol whips Harry.
Harry: Ow! Fuck! He's the one who said it!

  • Calling the Old Man Out - Perry does it for Harmony.
  • Chekhov's Gun - The little derringer Harry finds in Perry's glove box. As Perry says, homophobes avoid patting down his groin when checking for guns. Mistake.
  • Chekhov's Gunman - Harlan Dexter and his daughter, Lampshaded viciously by Harry during his narration.

Harry: Ooo-kay... I apologize, that was a terrible scene. It's like, why was that in the movie? Gee, do you think it'll come back later, maybe? I hate it when movies do that. TV's on, talking about the new power plant -- hm, I wonder where the big climax will happen?

    • Also, Flicka and the girl Harry runs into at the Christmas party with the living art. Though the later takes all of two minutes to come back.
  • The Chick - Harry pretty clearly is this to Gay Perry's Two-Fisted Private Investigator
  • Chivalrous Pervert - Harry has a serious case of this - no problem hitting on, looking at, or sleeping with women, but he has deep issues with any unsolicited contact and is uncomfortable with "easy" Hollywood girls. Early on in the movie he gets beat up preventing a guy from groping a sleeping Harmony at a party, only to hit on her hours after, and then sleep with her friend. Later, he touches her breast to get a spider, and when she says she didn't mind if he had copped a feel, he freaks out and says there's something wrong with her and the guys she hangs out with if she didn't mind him touching her. He adamantly refuses "pity sex".
  • Contemplate Our Navels - A nice pause in the action where Harry looks back at his unrequited love's apartment and sighs.
  • Country Matters

Perry: He called her a... Well, a bad name. <Beat> 'Cunt'.

  • CPR: Clean, Pretty, Reliable - Averted. After he and Perry are shot, Harry briefly attempts to give him CPR; cue blood spilling from the mouth. Blech.
  • Dead Little Sister - Jenna Lane. Interestingly, it wasn't her death that screwed Harmony up - it was that Harmony was helpless to stop their father regularly raping Jenna from a very young age.
  • Deadpan Snarker - Pretty much the entire cast spends the movie snarking at each other, but none more so than Perry.

Harry: So are you really gay?
"Gay" Perry: Oh no, I'm knee-deep in pussy. I just love the name so much, I can't get rid of it.

  • Deconstructor Fleet
  • Disney Death - Gay Perry.
  • Dogged Nice Guy - Harry. Really.
  • Dude, She's Like, in a Coma - Happens twice: When Harmony falls asleep at a party, her date feels up her thigh, prompting Harry to stand up for her and get beaten up in the process. When she faints later on, he tries to swat a spider from her cleavage, waking her up and making her think that he was groping her.
  • Electric Torture - Harry gets his genitals shocked by one of the villain's goons.
    • Also some excruciating Enforced Method Acting here. Robert Downey Jr. let his girlfriend yank his testicles from off-camera to ensure he was properly agonized in the torture scene.
      • Actually one of the director's assistants was crouching off camera jabbing him in the kidneys, he explains it in the commentary tract that runs alongside the movie on the dvd.
  • Ending Fatigue - Defied by Harry.

Harry: Don't worry, I saw The Lord of the Rings. I'm not going to end this 17 times.

  • Enforced Method Acting - Inverted with Harry's 'audition' in the beginning, where he's mistaken for an actor. Actually, he was running from the police and barged into the room by chance. It's perfect for the part he's reading from, however.
  • False Roulette - Subverted. Harry really does leave a bullet in the gun, counting on probability. The results are brilliant.

Harry: I just put in one bullet, didn't I?
Perry: You put a live round in that gun?
Harry: [stammers] Well yeah, there was like an 8% chance--!

  • Fake-Out Make-Out - Also subverted. Perry actually does plant a big one on Harry to fool a passerby (or if you prefer, Batman planted one on Iron Man).
  • Fake-Out Opening - Begins at a church fair with a kid doing magic. Yes, Harry lampshades this too.
  • Femme Fatale - Subverted by Harmony: she's coded this way, being alluring, sexual and a heap of trouble for Harry, but she's just a well-meaning screw-up like him.
  • Film Noir - Noir cliches are lampshaded repeatedly in the plot.
  • Fingore - Harmony slamming her door in Harry's face -- and on his finger, breaking it clean off. He has it reattached only to be torn off again and eaten by a dog.
  • First-Person Smartass - Harry's narration.
  • Freudian Slip: When Harry is narrating as he stares at Harmony's chest in-story:

Harry: And yeah, looking back, I maybe should've said something, told her I wasn't really a nipple-DETECTIVE. Detective. Uhm, sorry...

  • Genius Ditz - Harry. Most often he's just The Ditz, but if any situation requires the hands of a magician-turned-thief, he's definitely your guy.
  • Genre Savvy - References to Noir abound, and Harmony's extensive knowledge of pulp crime novels comes in handy. There turns out to be a reason for that - Harlan Dexter, who played Johnny Gossamer in an old movie and has all those novels at his home, is behind the crime.
    • Perry knows his film noir, too. Particularly the part about how mooks always stick guns directly against the hero's back, when professionals in real life know to never, ever do this.
    • Perry also uses his savviness to get out of another such situation, when he uses a homophobe's prejudices against him by keeping a tiny revolver stashed next to his crotch, knowing that the guy would never bother to check there.
  • Gilligan Cut - Complete with a subverted Badass Boast to a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown when Harmony's creepy date beats up the chivalrous Harry.
  • Have I Mentioned I Am Gay? - Every 2 minutes, but no actual action (the fake kiss doesn't count).
  • Heroic Second Wind - Harmony calls Harry and motivates him to utterly destroy the Big Bad and remaining Mooks, despite the fact he had just been shot.
  • Hilarious Outtakes - Ones that are almost funnier than the actual film.
  • Hollywood California - Harry is a Fish Out of Water in the Hollywood scene.
  • How Many Fingers?:

Harmony: [puts four fingers up] How many fingers?
Harry: Will you put that cat down? I'm allergic.

"It's only good for a couple of shots, then you have to drop it for something better."

First Hitman: Well now, here we all are. Ike, Mike and Mustard.
Harry: What the hell does that mean?
Second Hitman: You know, I'm with him on this one, man. That's pretty fucking obscure.
First Hitman: Horse shit, I hear that all the time!
Second Hitman: You do?
First Hitman: Yeah, sure.
Second Hitman: Where, at the 1942 club?
First Hitman: Hey, just 'cause you didn't get in...
Second Hitman: Motherfucker, I could've gotten in!
First Hitman: You wanna know who we are? I'm the frying pan, see? And my boy over here, he's?
Second Hitman: Mustard. I'm Mustard, baby.

    • Since the movie never explains it: "Ike and Mike" are old-timey nicknames for salt and pepper, so "Ike, Mike and Mustard" are your standard-issue diner condiments.
  • Money, Dear Boy - The Jonny Gossamer author Joe Chester.
  • Mood Whiplash - For some reason, the topic of Harmony's sister Jenna just sucks all the comedy out of the room. This is lampshaded in the end by Harry's narration.
  • Never Suicide - It actually is a suicide, even though the characters assume it isn't and the suicide fits cleanly into one theory on what happened.
  • Nonchalant Dodge - Perry wins this award for insulting a roomful of partygoers, then deftly ducking a bottle thrown at him without so much as a blink.
  • Not What It Looks Like: A funny example. Perry forcibly kisses Harry to make some cops move along. Harmony witnesses the kiss and asks why they were making out. Cut to Harry VOing that he managed to convince her he wasn't gay and that he still doesn't know how he managed to pull that off.
  • Old Friend - Harmony was Harry's childhood crush; when she shows up, hijinks ensue.
  • The One That Got Away: Harmony for Harry
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Harry. A gunshot wound to the shoulder doesn't seem to slow him down at all in the final showdown.
  • Parental Incest - Poor little Jenna.
    • Big Bad Harlan Dexter is a borderline example of this, as he apparently had no qualms to sleeping with a doppelgänger of his own daughter.
  • Parallel Porn Titles - Lord of the Cock Rings.
  • Place Worse Than Death

Harry: Swell, they're enjoying Baltimore. I'm lying here with my brains out.
Perry: I've been to Baltimore, you win.

Harry [after being shot]: Look, you want to see something cool? [pulls out a copy of a Johnny Gossamer book with a hole in it]
Harmony [laughing]: Oh, cool! It stopped the bullet, Harry!
[Harmony pokes her finger through the hole in the book and frowns. Harry pokes at his chest.]
Harry: No, not really. [passes out]

I was tired. I was pissed. I was wetter than Drew Barrymore at a grunge club.

  • Punny Name - "Gay" Perry.
  • Reality Ensues: See False Roulette above.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech - Perry delivers one to Harmony's and Jenna's father at the end of the film.
  • Red Herring - The death of Harmony's sister Jenna.
  • Retirony - Harry's partner in crime.
  • Role Association - Batman and Iron Man solving crimes in LA. Hell. Yes.
  • Saw a Woman In Half - Double Subverted in the opening.
  • Sexy Santa Dress - Harmony's Christmas cocktail outfit.
  • Shout-Out - the titles of Philip Marlowe novels are dropped into the dialogue and used as titles for the sections of the film, e.g. 'The Lady In The Lake' and 'The Little Sister'.
  • Shut UP, Hannibal - Harry interrupts Mr. Fire's "tough guy" speech with a few bullets to the chest.
  • Sleeps with Everyone but You: Harmony slept with every guy in high school but Harry, who was her Unlucky Childhood Friend, and his friend Chutney out of loyalty to Harry. Except that she slept with Chutney, too. Needless to say, Harry is not pleased to learn this.
  • The Snark Knight - Perry tries to pass himself off as this ("I'm not a good guy"). It's evident that he's noble at his core.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat - Perry and Harry. Constantly.
  • Stop Helping Me! - Harry kindly asks Perry to quit antagonizing Aurelio, the man who has just strapped electrodes to Harry's privates. However, the trope is usually invoked by Perry, who often has the situation in hand until Harry comes bumbling into it.
  • Invisible to Gaydar - "Gay" Perry, who is a badass and generally avoids gay stereotypes. On the other hand, he never hides what is he, and has "I Will Survive" as a ringtone.
  • Take That - Harry gets several, mostly at other movies.
  • Taking the Bullet - Subverted. Perry puts himself between Harry and a mook, simultaneously shooting the mook and taking a bullet... but the bullet goes straight through Perry and hits Harry anyway.
  • That Came Out Wrong - "I grab your tit, it's a fucking biggie!" Lampshaded.
  • There Is Only One Bed - Harry initially claims to be fine with sharing chastely, but gets uncomfortable when she cuddles up to him and he gets a boner.
  • This Is Reality - Perry. "Do not play detective. This is not a book. This is not a movie."
    • This is also the main point of the film: tearing down all the palatable trappings of a cool detective story, leaving a very sour reality-based story, but with a veneer of winks-to-the-audience and snappy banter reminding us why the fake stories are fun in the first place.
  • Those Two Bad Guys - Mr. Frying Pan and Mr. Fire Mustard.
    • Fuck you, Mr Mustard.
  • Took a Level in Badass - Harry.
  • Unexplained Recovery - Lampshaded by Perry being accompanied in the hospital by the assorted dead of the film, as well as Lincoln and Elvis Presley.
  • Unreliable Narrator - Harry occasionally criticizes himself for his poor narration.
  • Urine Trouble: Harry spotting a corpse next to him while he's taking a leak, then turning around mid-stream. Oops.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Harry and Perry.
  • Walk in Chime In - "See that? Obedient little bitches, too."

"Fuck you!" * Glass smash*

  1. alright, two out of three, you pedant