The fourth wall breaks in movies and TV shows

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005) is a mix of film noir and buddy comedy from writer/director Shane Black. The film marked Black’s directorial debut after serving as one of Hollywood’s most prominent screenwriters throughout the 80s and 90s, even setting a record most expensive script sale with The Last Boy Scout. For his first turn in the director’s chair, Black didn’t hold back and made a film that was as ambitious as it was hilarious.


While the film flirts with breaking the fourth wall through some of Robert Downey Jr voice-over, it basically stays in its lane and retains its narrative reality. Everything changes at the end of the film when the characters of Downey and Val Kilmer address the audience directly. Downey completely dismantles the fourth wall, saying, “I’m just trying to finish the movie and leave a message for people,” before Kilmer covers his mouth, tells him to stop talking, and says, “Everyone, please stay.” for the end credits. If you’re wondering who the best boy is, it’s somebody’s nephew.”

This funny, self-aware ending is reminiscent of the iconic post-credits scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. While Ferris has been constantly breaking the fourth wall since the beginning of the movie, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang waits until the very last scene. It somehow makes it even more fun, as if Shane Black had reached the finish line and then said, “Now all bets are off.”


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