Kiss Kiss Bang Bang / 2005 Composed

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang / 2005
Suite from Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
# Title Duration
The Fair 1:38
Main Titles 1:55
Innocent Times 2:02
Toy Heist 1:55
Lovely Confessions 2:30
Surveillance Lesson 3:22
Harry Smartens Up 1:48
Dead Girl in Shower 3:49
Harmony Is Dead 1:25
Saving Perry 4:40
Flashback / Dropping Off Body 2:38
They Took My Crickets 1:48
Oh, Nuts! 2:56
Whoa, Who's This 1:38
Harmony Lives 2:16
Doggie Treat / First kill 2:09
Going Home 1:47
Harmony Sees a Clue 1:24
Harry's Rage 3:23
Painful Pieces 1:29
That's the Story 2:46
Broken - Performed by Robert Downey Jr. 5:10

John's Thoughts

Simply put, a blast!  Normally I would see this as a very tough assignment in terms of riding that fine line, which it was.  But Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is one of those films that gets better every time you watch it.  I have to admit, some of the deadpan humor went over my head the first time I saw a cut.  But that's the great thing about it.  As I began working on it, I caught myself smiling more and more all the time.  That alone is great inspiration for me - to really enjoy the film I'm watching.  Shane Black (writer and director) created such clever dialog and terrific characters that I fell in love with them right away.  This too is a major inspiration when coming up with themes.  He also did a bang up job pulling off his directorial debut with style, class and terrific performances.  Once again I was challenged with a film that had quite a line to ride.  The film's a convoluted murder mystery, but it's also a kick in the pants buddy film. So the music had to suggest intrigue with a sly wink in its eye - without being too cute.   I thought going a little "retro" and funky would offer the cleverness the film needed in the score.  So I imbedded these ideas into a darker noir-ish orchestral bed to offset the humor.  The result was thrilling for me.

After I wrote the main theme to the film, I went through that inevitable agony: "Shit, I just know they're going to hate this, but I mean they HAVE to like it, it's perfect. God, I'll DIE if they don't get what I'm doing.  In fact if they hate it, they're crazy!!  Or am I crazy?  Maybe I have no idea what I'm doing!  Ahhhh!!" That insecurity thing, you know.  It was a Friday, and in a gutsy move, I decided to just bite the bullet and send a CD of the rendering of the theme to Joel Silver, Shane and the editor, Jim Page.  I had a terrific experience working with Joel on Gothika, and therefore was hoping he wouldn't think I had lost my mind this time.  After sweating bullets, to my relief I got a call from him spewing that he had already listened to it a billion times and loved it.  In fact his wife apparently was getting sick of hearing it in the car that weekend.  Then Shane and Jim called with similar comments.  My evil plan worked.  They were hooked.  Ahhh ha ha ha!  This really inspired me even further to continue developing my take on the film.  The really thrilling part was that my main titles synth rendering was handed over to the title designers who went forward and animated the entire opening title sequence to it.  After a couple revisions, the marriage of the ciche animation and score is something I can watch over and over.  The theme itself contains two main motifs that flow throughout the film.  I wrote a repeating haunting string theme that weaves through the drums, basses and saxes.  This is the "mystery theme".  It is then followed by a sort of "groovy" riff on electric piano that defines the off-kilter world and light side of the film.

The other main theme in the film reflects Harmony Lane, the heroine.  As a girl she was a fanatic of Johnny Gossimer detective novels.  She emerges years later as our main love interest to Robert Downey Jr.'s character, Harry.  As it turns out they were both best friends as children.  So for Harmony's theme, I thought it should have a certain reminiscence and innocence about it, while at the same time making a nod to the Johnny Gossimer novels.  So within a simple piano melody, I wove in saxes and muted trumpet to remind us of her affinity for detective novels.  Her theme then develops in the film to reflect some sadness she feels for her dead sister.  Harmony's Theme is actually what we hear first in the film before the main titles, as we watch a childhood flashback.

With some wild saxes and my hair let down, even the action sequences were a blast to score.  We had a dinky little orchestra, but with some tricky overdubbing and exhaustive synth work, I'm really pleased with the sound, and will look back upon my experience on Kiss Kiss Bang Bang with fond memories.  It was one of those gigs that made me want to get up in the morning and write!  Thanks Joel, Shane and Jim for your support and inspiration; you're the best! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did writing it.