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Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Warner Home Video
Movie A+
Special Features B
DVD Geek Factor 8 (out of 10)

This movie is total greatness. It snuck in and out of theaters last year, and now's your chance to see it and be blown away.

Robert Downey Jr. delivers the best work of his career as Harry, a small-time criminal who, through a series of bizarre events, winds up in Hollywood screen-testing for a movie. While there, he's hooked up with a real detective (Val Kilmer, in a great comeback performance) to learn the ropes, and the two become involved in a real murder mystery.

The two actors are perfection on the screen together, creating one of the best duos of recent memory. Downey's narration, which often breaks the "fourth wall," is consistently hilarious. Kilmer is terrific as a consummate wise ass, delivering his best work in years. If you liked Michelle Monaghan in Mission: Impossible III, you haven't seen anything yet, because she absolutely scorches the screen in this one. Her characterization of Harmony was one of the better performances last year.

Best of all would be the script by first-time feature director Shane Black, who proves to be an incredible talent. Black doesn't do anything by the book, and his film feels original from start to finish. Often very funny, the movie just pops, and it looks great to boot. Black doesn't have a current project in the works. Somebody give this guy another job ... now!

There are many scenes of jaw-dropping originality. A sequence where a spider crawls into a woman's bra is funnier than could ever be described here. A man's finger getting cut off has never been funnier. The dialogue throughout is so good, it's a crime somebody didn't get an Oscar nomination for it.

Seriously, I couldn't recommend this movie more. I know my enthusiasm is perhaps too giddy and annoying, but I really am excited about this one. Buy it or rent it, and pop it in, then prepare to be amazed and entertained.

Special Features: The one supplement is a good one; a commentary with Kilmer, Downey and Black that maintains the spirit of the movie. Kilmer is especially funny, declaring his love for Downey in a way that is just sort of precious.

L.A. Story: 15th Anniversary Edition

Lions Gate
Movie B
Special Features C
DVD Geek Factor 6 (out of 10)

It's hard to believe this kooky Steve Martin movie is 15 years old. While not hysterically funny, it's always amusing and often totally cute.

Martin plays a whacky weatherman who is bored with his current girlfriend (Marilu Henner) and is dating somebody much younger than him (Sarah Jessica Parker) while being in love with somebody else (the sort of boring Victoria Tennant). His character receives tutelage from a roadside freeway sign that sends him messages regarding love and the weather.

The film is a bit uneven at times, but Martin is in fine form throughout. His in-jokes about the city often work well (the freeway shootout being the most memorable), and his romantic sensibilities are fun. Tennant just didn't make for the best of leading ladies. Parker, whose character is constantly in motion and fancies colonics, is a real standout.

This was Martin's writing follow-up to the superior Roxanne. Both films displayed Martin's gift for comic romance, a gift that definitely peaked with those pictures.

Special Features: The disc has plenty of featurettes, but the production value leaves a lot to be desired. Some deleted scenes (including one with John Lithgow) are included. There's no Martin commentary, which would've been fun.

The World's Fastest Indian

Movie A-
Special Features B+
DVD Geek Factor 7.5 (out of 10)

One of last year's greatest sleepers. Anthony Hopkins plays Burt Munro, the amazing man who broke land-speed records on his souped-up motorcycle. Munro was near 70 years old when he made the trek from New Zealand to Utah, and drove his bike real, real fast in Utah, much to the surprise of racing experts and fans.

This is one of those movies that will have you jumping onto the Internet at film's end looking for info on its central character. The story seems too outrageous to be true, but the events depicted in the film actually happened. Munro stitched together a world-class ride out of junk lying around his house. That he didn't die in some sort of motorcycle wipeout is a miracle.

Hopkins is major fun in the role, and the racing sequences are dynamic. There's a true sweetness at the movie's core. This is a great film that received surprisingly little fanfare (much like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang). Hopefully, it will find its audience on the home screen.

Special Features: Some deleted scenes and a commentary with director Roger Donaldson. Best feature would be Offerings to the God of Speed (1971), an actual documentary of Munro, also directed by Donaldson. The real Munro features prominently in the movie through interviews and footage of him riding the infamous bike.

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