Shane Black Saw Kiss Kiss Bang Bang As His ‘Anti-Action Movie’

Black, coming off his long series of large-scale action comedies, was clearly trying to take a new tack with “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.” The screenwriter’s propensity for bubbly dialogue, witty characters, and lightly antagonistic friendships/relationships was now, in this case, wrapped around the genre trappings of film noir. In a 2005 interview with the website Chud, Black was explicit about how “Kiss Kiss” was meant to be an antidote to his usual action fare. Indeed, when asked about the usual action clichés one might see in movies, Black said he was determined to undermine a lot of them. In his words: 

“I’m sure there are several that I’ve yet to get to. It was kind of the anti-action action movie in the sense that I tried to make everything … all the tough guy stuff … and put it on its ear a little bit. The violence in it and the action is very awkward. People are stumbling, the wrong person is shooting. Instead of this guy, it’s the vendor who shoots the bad guy at one point. I liked that the actual guy who is tough and knows how to kick down the door and rescue everybody happens to be gay.”

Perry, Kilmer’s character, is a capable detective, the smartest person in the film, and a gay man. Queerness, Black seems to acknowledge, is rarely included in action movies, with a certain kind of ultra-hetero machismo often expressed instead. Black satirized that kind of sexual bluster in portions of “Predator” wherein a character uses a queer slur before referring to himself as a “sexual tyrannosaurus.” It’s an evocative phrase, but also comedically meaningless. Later in the film, his confident toxicity will be rendered into a paste by an alien monster.

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