| by Justin Thomas |
Ask me to detail the military objectives of the Rough Riders’ charge up San Juan Hill and I’m not going to be able to give you an answer nor am I particularly interested in finding the battle’s Wiki page now that junior year American History is sixteen firm years in the past. Unless I get my crack at Jeopardy! it doesn’t seem like information I’m going to need to know between now and death. What I can tell you is I know precisely why I wouldn’t charge up the hill of explaining why the Lord of the Rings movies suck to a rabid fan of the trilogy.
A dyed-in-the-wool fan of Peter Jackson’s work might be able to listen to reasons why the films aren’t the finest example of any aspect of filmmaking and even might be able to concede points. Maybe they’d concede the entire argument because I can be damn persuasive when I put my mind to it (listen to me ramble about Savannah Smiles and you can kiss your current paradigm goodbye). But those rabid, dyed-in-the-wool fans have the silver bullet: so, who cares about the problems, I still love them because it’s Lord of the Rings. And there, Dear Reader, is where the conversation ends, because I understand.
There are issues with Star Wars, it’s not a perfect film nor does a perfect film set in the Star Wars universe exist and, yes, I’m including Empire in that. There are issues, they are not perfect, I’m embarrassed by some of the problems but I don’t care. It’s Star Wars and that’s where that particular conversation ends. There are precious few movies to which I can point and say, “perfect,” and with some of them I’ll say “not perfect but I still love it” and it’s hard to move me off the latter.
If movies mean enough to you then you know what I’m talking about. You’ll see something and it’ll be like a home run hitter getting the bat on the ball so well he knows it’s going to go far before it lands. It’s in your wheelhouse, it’s your bag, it’s your cup of tea, it’s why you go to the movies. There might be millions of other people who share your sweet spot (attempting to say it’s unique to be a Star Wars fan is like attempting to say wolverines would make good house pets or, in other words, stupid) or maybe you’re the only person you’ve ever met who named a kid after Charles Laughton due to Night of the Hunter. It doesn’t matter who else and how many who elses share your opinion. If you love it you love it and anyone who takes issue with it can jump off the Golden Gate Bridge.
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang hit that wheelhouse for me. Genres I dig include space opera, science fiction, mystery and Westerns; the kind that can be traced back to the pages of pulp fiction. It shouldn’t surprise me that an inability to remember life before Star Wars, hours spent watching Charlie Chan, growing up with Wayne and Eastwood on television, filling the post-Jedi void with Trek and consuming with enthusiasm every frame of early Spielberg would lead to an affinity for pulp and a race back through as much of it as I could get my hands on. Nor should it surprise me, knowing what types of movies get me going, that Kiss Kiss Bang Bang left me with that giddy as a schoolboy feeling.
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is good but not perfect. It came from a smart, well-written script, features strong performances and is made with enough attention to craft to keep me from picking at it like a scab until I can’t watch it again. Some movies get made that are good but not perfect, come from a good script and, well, you get the point, but they won’t hit that sweet spot for me. If Sex and the City 3 is somehow put together as well as Kiss Kiss Bang Bang I’m not going to walk away with that grin because it’s just not my thing even though I will concede it’s well done.
There are more elements in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang that are the types I get crazy about. It’s sarcastic as all Hell, which I enjoy. The dialogue is stupid good, just fun dialogue to hear spoken by actors who know what they’re doing. It’s wicked smart and requires the audience to use its brain or get left behind. It was made by Shane Black who took the title of Most Miserable Man in Hollywood when Robert Mitchum died, another personal favorite due to his misery. It’s like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was made specifically for me, which makes me happy to know it’s not equivalent to Jaws 3 quality-wise because I don’t have to dance with the guilty pleasure monkey.
My key requirement of a movie is that it properly execute against the known elements of what makes a movie a movie. A haiku is required to have precise elements and movies aren’t that dissimilar: structure, dialogue, character development, etc. When a movie hits the elements, I feel as though time wasn’t wasted. When a movie hits a portion of the elements in a new way, I’ve got something to talk about. When a movie hits more than it misses and falls within my wheelhouse genres? Then I get to walk away with a big damn smile on my face and find someone, anyone, to whom I can pontificate about the movie’s greatness. It happened when I first saw Back to the Future. It happened again with The Sixth Sense. And Kiss Kiss Bang Bang did the same thing, which is why it merited more than just thumbs up or thumbs down. I go to movies with hope I’ll see something like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and wind up crazy excited when it happens.