UK, 97 minutes

director.gif (905 bytes)Stewart Sugg


Stellan Skarsgård - Felix
Chris Penn - Bubba

Paul Bettany - Jimmy
Allan Corduner - Big Bob
Jacqueline McKenzie - Sherry
Peter Vaughn - Daddy Zoo
Sienna Guillory - Kat


France - November 7, 2001
Hungary - March 21, 2002
Japan - December 21, 2002


Dinard British Film Festival
Taormina Film Festival

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Felix (Stellan) is an aging hitman undergoing a mid-life crisis, and after introducing his protégé Jimmy (Bettany) to the barflies at the local assassin’s guild, he announces he’s retiring. To pay off his stack of debts, he reluctantly agrees to babysit a gangster's 33-year-old son named Bubba (Penn), who has spent the last thirty-four years locked in his room. Under Felix’s tutelage, he discovers the joys of liquor, becomes acquainted with the opposite sex and learns how not to conduct a relationship with your girlfriend  (McKenzie). Unfortunately, his partners in crime are sent to remind him that you can check out but you can never leave, and our heroes spend the rest of the film dodging bullets, smoking cigarettes and working on their unlikely friendship.

button_box.gif (205 bytes)PRODUCTION NOTES

Stewart Sugg wrote and directed his first feature film, Fast Food. Shot on a small budget, the film sold extensively around the world, played in the London Film Festival and gained a UK release. Stewart was then commissioned to write and direct a £3 million feature film for the renowned producer Norma Heyman at Pagoda Films. Production began in London on March 27, 2000 and wrapped later that spring.

AFM Review:
This is an odd, but lovable British cross of Big Daddy and Rain Man with guns and violence from newcomer Stewart Sugg. International acting heavyweight Stellan Skarsgård stars as a retiring hit man, Felix. He is the last of the "old school" hit men who founded this boiler room "club", complete with full bar. Felix has a very different set of values and sense of honor than the new youthful regime, resulting in a clash with the tantrum-prone kid, Big Bob, who leads the band of assassins. Big Bob orders a hit on Felix after he leaves, and spends most of the film trying have Felix killed. Meanwhile, Felix has taken an assignment to look after a wealthy patron's son while he is away. When Felix arrives, he finds an "idiot manchild" in his thirties who has never left left the house (shades of Being There?) due to a neurotically overprotective father. Bubba is played by the ever-portly Chris Penn in a convincing, if underplayed, example of casting against type.

Felix finds Bubba for the first time grotesquely dressed like a twelve-year-old boy surrounded by toys and stuffed animals. After only one afternoon, Felix decides to move Bubba to his own flat. It is at this point that Felix's expostition is revealed to us, including a thematically prominent relationship with the beautiful and engaging Sherry (Jacqueline McKenzie), which is quickly going sour because of hard-boiled Felix's inability to express his feelings. Bubba learns quickly (perhaps a bit too quickly, threatening my suspension of disbelief) by watching and following Felix, and is soon drinking, smoking, and having a sexual relationship with an empathetic girl he meets in a bar, Kat (Sienna Guillory). However, Bubba is not the only one undergoing an accelerated education; Felix, too, is learning some hard lessons.

Variety Review:
A career hit man finds himself the target in Kiss Kiss (Bang Bang), a stylish genre hodge-podge in which lethal violence and acceptably limned sentimentality cohabit with varying degrees of success. Contempo London-set pic has a fetching '60s retro feel but is defiantly uneven in its plotting, relying too much on genetic notions of family ties and generalizations about beauty to be found in an ugly world. In rendering semi-sordid proceedings light rather than lugubrious, the excellent jazzy and choral score by composer John Dankworth cannot be overestimated... Production design is snappy, acting earnest. Review:
In Kiss Kiss (Bang Bang) first time writer-director Stewart Sugg attempts to (yet again) meld the crime genre with a quirky buddy comedy, and while the results are mildly entertaining, it doesn’t quite make good on its interesting premise and a great lead cast. Certainly the film grabbed me in the first ten minutes with its stylish, quirky opening scene, but all too soon Kiss Kiss (Bang Bang) adopts a snail’s pace; taking forever and a day to complete the first act, and languishing until midway through the second when the beautiful Ms. McKenzie makes her welcome appearance.

Above all, it is the writing that lets the film down. While containing some entertaining set pieces - a nicotine overdose brought on by a hundred simultaneous patches being one of them - there just isn’t enough meat on the bones. Wonderful character actors in their own rights, Stellan and Jacqueline certainly have their moments, and despite a script that has him silent and doeful for most of the film, Chis Penn provides quite a reasonable Forrest Gump. But their best efforts are hampered at every turn by dangling subplots, poor dialogue and a bunch of laughably underwritten and over-played supporting roles.

button_box.gif (205 bytes)The DVD and video are available in Europe (Region 2 format).

button_box.gif (205 bytes)Check out cast information & Andrew Howe's review.

button_box.gif (205 bytes)Watch the trailer at (Click on "Bande Annonce")

button_box.gif (205 bytes)Read or view the interview with Stellan and Stewart at the Dinard British Film Festival.


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