Screenwriter Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, Last Action Hero) makes his directing debut with this cheerful mess of a pulp-fiction parody, pumped full of laughs by Michelle Monaghan, Val Kilmer, and Robert Downey Jr. An east-coast thief (Downey) is improbably lured out west for a screen test and schooled for his role by a gay private eye (Kilmer); after the crook encounters an old childhood friend (Monaghan), the three are drawn into a convoluted web of intrigue. Downey’s character provides voice-over narration, a task he mocks along with the story’s other pulp conventions; when the structure is this rickety, crashing through the fourth wall isn’t a bad idea.