Kiss Kiss Bang Bang Movie Poster Image

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Choppy LA thriller is full of violence, sex, cursing.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Any positive themes of not letting dreams and aspirations overpower reality and vice-versa are overshadowed by the noir style and cynical attitudes of the characters. 

Positive role models

The lead character is a thief at the beginning of the movie; while he grows to become something else, he's basically a cynic in the classic noir tradition. Other characters are equally cynical, often acting like they are only out for themselves. 

Violence

Frequent violence. Characters shot and killed at close range. Gun fights on city streets. Dead bodies found in lakes, in shower stalls. Lead character's index finger severed from his hand when a door slams into it. Blood. His finger is severed again, he tries to keep it preserved in the ice of an ice bucket, where a dog comes in and walks off with it in its mouth. Lead character tortured by electric shock to his testicles. Fighting with punches, kicks, and head butts. Discussion of how the sister of one of the lead characters was sexually abused by her father. 

Sex

Female breasts in some scenes, brief. Talk of sex lives, past and present. Lead character calls his erection a "rodney." Lead character wakes up from an obvious one-night-stand, horrified when he sees who he has woken up next to. The two lead characters, men, make out with each other in an alley to avoid getting arrested; when a police car cruises by, the two officers inside make a homophobic joke about it. 

Language

Frequent profanity, including regular use of "f--k." C-word used once. "A--hole." "P-ssy." "Bitch." Frequent gay jokes and slurs. A VHS tape has the title "Lord of the C-ck Ring." In a voice-over, lead character says he is "wetter than Drew Barrymore at a grunge club." Lead character speaks disparagingly of women who live in Los Angeles, speaking glibly of how they were all sexually abused as children. Talk of sex lives past and present. 

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Beer and liquor drinking. One of the lead characters is high on Demerol prescribed after an injury. Cigarette smoking. 

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a 2005 action movie in which Robert Downey Jr. plays a NYC thief who, through a bizarre twist of fate, ends up in LA and must solve a murder. There's frequent violence and profanity in this post-modernist take on noir films. Language includes "f--k," "c--t," and "p--sy." While the movie addresses the sexual abuse of the lead characters and her sister, there is also a scene in which Downey Jr.'s character, even after knowing what the lead character/love interest/crush from his teen years went through, speaks disparagingly about women in Los Angeles and how they've all been sexually abused and that's why they act the way they do. Lead character has his index finger severed. He's later tortured by bad guys, shown screaming in excruciating pain while getting electric shocks to his testicles. Brief female nudity: breasts. Some drinking and cigarette smoking; the character who has his index finger severed is shown in the next scene to be high on Demerol. One of the other lead characters makes many dry-humored cracks about being gay, but other characters also make similar jokes. In a voice-over, lead character says that he is "wetter than Drew Barrymore at a grunge club." Overall, the stylized cynicism and unrelenting violence and profanity make this a movie for older teens and adults only. 

 

What's the story?

Set in Los Angeles, KISS KISS BANG BANG centers on Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey Jr.), a thief who inadvertently stumbles into a screen test and gets a role as a private detective. As research for the role, Gary spends time with a real P.I., Gay Perry (Val Kilmer). Things start to get out of hand for Harry and Perry when a mysterious client sets them up to witness some men dumping a body in a lake. And then there's the girl...Harmony Faith Lane (Michelle Monaghan). Harry's in love with her but hasn't seen her since they were kids. Harmony, Harry, and Perry are brought together by the deaths of two young girls, one of whom is Harmony's sister. Were both deaths murders or was one a suicide? What motive would anyone have to kill either one of the girls? And why do scary men with guns seem to turn up everywhere? These are the questions that move the film along its fast-paced storyline.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a fragmented and jumpy flick fraught with beautiful people, comic books, and violence. Robert Downey Jr. is fun to watch, but he plays the neurotic, caring Harry the way some people might play a dope fiend. His character can be touching and sincere, but at the same time, he doesn't seem real. As Gay Perry, Val Kilmer delivers crude, self-deprecating one-liners about being homosexual, which he seems to flaunt out of resentment. His character lacks the nuance necessary to make him believable. Harmony is the strongest and most interesting character in the movie, but we're given enough of her past to hold our interest, then her storyline falls apart into choppy confusion.

The film is entertaining at times but lacks something that would make it a great movie. It tries to be hip, but hip is more than snazzy lines told by flippant, sexy people who shoot each other. A little more substance and care, and this movie would have been much better.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about remaining true to one's convictions in difficult or out-of-the-ordinary situations. When, if ever, is the use of violence "okay?" Is it ever acceptable to tell lies or steal?

  • As a contemporary take on noir movies, how does this movie both conform to and play with the conventions of the genre? 

  • How does this movie address the topic of sexually-abused children? 

Movie details

Theatrical release date:May 18, 2006
DVD/Streaming release date:June 13, 2006
Cast:Corbin Bernsen, Michelle Monaghan, Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer
Director:Shane Black
Studio:Warner Home Video
Genre:Action/Adventure
Run time:103 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language, violence, sexuality/nudity

This review of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Ratings

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate.

Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 16 years old Written byFilmFanatic November 22, 2011

Great for mature older teens.

This movie is a Rated R for a reason. There are many violent situations, shoot outs and corpses. I would say this movie is more bloody than gory though. There are also a few sexual situations containing nudity and innuendo. We see a few topless women engaging in sexual acts. One of the main characters is gay and kisses the other main character (a man) but it's mainly played for laughs. There are a few references to incest and sexual abuse. There is also abundant language through out the film. Many uses of strong words such as F-ck and some less stong words such as SH-t. There is also a party scene with many nude/almost nude women as 'entertainment' as well as a few gay references. I would suggest this movie for children 16 and up, but KNOW your child. You can discuss friendship and even sexuality and decision making with your child after watching. I personally enjoyed this movie a lot. I found it funny, suspenseful and heartwarming at the same time. Enjoy :D -FilmFanatic
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 15 years old Written byMissParkerP August 6, 2010

Perfect for older kids

I can't believe the rating on this! It definitely is appropriate for 15+ and is a great, witty action flick.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Great messages
Teen, 14 years old Written byStevie111 March 5, 2012

Very Funny and Thrilling

This is a really good action comedy. Lots of language and some sexuality and violence. Nudity. Very good, teens can handle it
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing