Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Rated 4.0

A petty thief turned would-be actor (Robert Downey Jr.) and a gay private eye (Val Kilmer) investigate the murder of a woman whose body they find in the trunk of a car they’re tailing. Writer Shane Black’s directorial debut (from his original script, only partly based on a vintage 1941 Michael Shayne mystery by Brett Halliday) is the sort of movie-love movie that movie lovers love, reveling in the conventions of the hard-boiled genre even as it comments on and pokes fun at them. Black gives it enough rattling energy, ingenious plot twists, breezy repartee, sexy banter and spirited fun to make it a hit even with audiences who don’t get every film-noir reference. He also supplies Downey, Kilmer and co-star Michelle Monaghan with some deliciously snappy dialogue, and they rise to the occasion with gusto.