I like to call movies like this “exception films”. They are the exception to the rule. Those odd little films that show up every once in a great while that really have no right to be good. You hear the plot, you see the trailer, and you know that this film is mere days away from losing vast sums of money for someone on the left coast. Then the movie comes out and it is… inexplicably entertaining and fantastic.
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang has carved out a surprisingly strong cult following for itself since it… theatrical release. So here’s the plot of this unlikely hit: Robert Downey Jr. plays Harry Lockhart, a clumsy small time criminal who stumbles into a Hollywood acting audition while fleeing the police. Naturally, he gets the part, and is quickly ushered off to La La Land to act in the film. When he gets there, he is assigned an acting coach (Val Kilmer) named Gay Perry (get it?) to help him learn the craft. Throw in an old High School girlfriend and a murder mystery, and there you have it. A movie that is much better than it has any right to be.
Wow. From the film’s opening scene straight through to the end of the credits, this is a simply fantastic audio track. Subtlety, nuance, dynamic range… it’s all here. The bass response is simply fantastic. It is clean and powerful. Dialog ranges from a whisper to a scream with grace and ease. Music is sharp and clean, and the surrounds are used just enough to fill in the blanks without becoming a focal point for the action.
Honestly, it is sometimes frustrating to try to describe a sound palette. By definition, there is no good way to describe a sound. Even if I could, viewers still owe it to themselves to experience this soundtrack firsthand. This is an excellent, excellent soundtrack that takes a really fun movie and makes it even better.
The video quality is also well above average, but not quite up to the same high level as that of the audio. The color is stylized for much of the film, so while the colors may not be realistic, they are most definitely beautiful and interesting. The video is also razor sharp, with no problems with grain, scratches or dust. Unfortunately, there are some minor problems with digital stutter when objects close to the camera move across the screen. It is hardly a major problem, but it does happen from time to time. The bigger problem comes in with regards to halos around the edge of many of the faces in some scenes. Such halos are all-too-common on discs these days, and they are probably the most persistent problem found on transfers today.
The mixture of a popular film with minimal extras adds up to a future special edition in my book. As a result, fans of this film might want to wait for that future release. The only extras here are a theatrical trailer, a gag reel and a commentary track. As usual, the gag reel is big on mistakes, but extremely light on comedy. The commentary is also surprisingly dull. Usually, when you get the film’s stars and the director together, the result is a track that is both entertaining and interesting. This one, however, is pretty bland. There is a lot of talking, but it’s just not all that interesting.
This is a really fun film that came out strong in the technical categories, but was surprisingly lame when it came to the extras. I really hope that a deluxe version of this disc is being planned for the future, because this fun flick deserves better. With that in mind, it’s hard for me to recommend a purchase of this disc. I feel like I don’t have all the facts. If you are the type of consumer that cares only about the movie, and has no interest in extras, then feel free to proceed with a clear conscience. For the fans that want the full experience, however, I am sorry to say that this is (hopefully) not it.
Special Features List
- Commentary by: Val Kilmer, Robert Downey Jr., and Shane Black
- Gag Reel
- Theatrical Trailer