Kill Me, Deadly (NR)

Comedy 100 min. April 1, 2016
By Angelica Jade Bastién
Taking place in a version of 1940s Los Angeles that only existed on soundstages, Kill Me, Deadly unfurls with the markers of classic film noir: slick black­-and­-white cinematography, stylized dialogue and a convoluted murder mystery all played for laughs. That said, the film fails to find humor in heightening the recognizable archetypes of the genre. Satire requires true understanding. The filmmakers get the aesthetics of noir but not much else.

Centering on Charlie Nickels (Dean Lemont), a private detective more adept at ordering a Manhattan than doing his job, is the first problem. Lemont lacks the machismo necessary to work as an exaggerated version of characters such as Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe. In order to solve the murder of a rich client, he's thrust into a world full of mobsters like Bugsy Siegel (Joe Mantegna) and femmes fatales like Mona Livingston (Kirsten Vangsness). The actors are more than game, yet their performances feel either too arch or not enough so. Despite the brisk runtime, jokes last too long or run out of steam even before they've started.

The one, minor storyline that works involves Charlie's put­-upon secretary, Ida (Lynn Odell), who is clearly the better detective. She hunts for clues, takes on disguises and uses her wits to solve the murder before her boss does. He's too busy slapping, condescending to or flirting with women to see Ida's strengths — a clever nod to the sexism that runs through the genre. Unfortunately, this isn't enough. Unlike the great work it's referencing, Kill Me, Deadly is ultimately forgettable.
Darrett Sanders Kirsten Vangsness, Dean Lemont, Paul F. Tompkins, Time Winters, Raleigh Holmes, Lynn Odell, Keith Allan, Joe Roche, Nicholas S. Williams, Darrett Sanders Bill Robens Indican Pictures

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