Director: Shane Black
Cast: Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Angourie Rice, Keith David
Review Author: Tony
Rating: 4.5/5 shots of Jameson
So Shane Black has written some great Buddy films, he’s directed a cult hit buddy film so it’s not exactly difficult to figure out what film genre Shane Black gravitates towards. So you can imagine how shocked I was to hear that Shane Black’s new film The Nice Guys was in fact another Buddy film. Sorry I couldn’t help myself, but full props to Black he knows this genre inside out and that’s where he thrives and in fairness he branched out with Iron Man 3 which was both critically and financially a success even if I find it the most boring of Marvels gallery of impossibly ripped people in spandex blowing everything up till the days saved films.
The buddy genre was a staple of the 80’s and 90’s, two people team up, ones the straight man the others unhinged with a tragic past, together they tear shit up and make conventional police procedure look like it’s for pussies. It’s a formula we’ve seen so many times but some formulas just don’t get stale, take boxing films for example, the protagonist will face a hardship forcing them to make adjustments in their life that gives them the new strength to overcome adversity to engage in an epic final battle with some turbo dick at the end of the film where they win the respect of everyone and the protagonist goes home with a smile and further symptoms of brain damage.
When I saw the trailer for The Nice Guys I thought it looked great, when I heard Shane Black was directing, I thought it looked great, when I read and watched positive reviews, I thought it looked great, so going into the virtually empty screening for it last night I expected it to be great. So the verdict is that it’s ok I guess…………nah fuck me it was brilliant, I knew there would be comedy elements but I didn’t know how funny it would be, I was laughing like a moron (empty screening remember). There’s nothing I love more than a really great film far exceeding your already high expectations.
The story starts with the suspicious murder of a porn star Misty Mountains (I hope this was reference to the hobbit) and the subsequent events which follow it dragging thug for hire Jackson Healy and the inept private eye Holland March into an unlikely partnership to find the same girl. The plot plays out as a typical murder mystery/conspiracy with each event becoming shader than the last. What I like about the plot of the film is that its shrouded enough to keep us asking for more but never takes away from the true focus of the film which is our two leads played masterfully by Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling. Black’s script has them effortlessly bouncing off one another which is no surprise considering his background.
Ryan Gosling is one of the few pin-up pretty boys that every man has to show full respect, sure he makes the women tremble at numbers off the Richter scale but he’s also a damn good actor who’s willing to put himself out there. His physical comedy was superb, he had me in knots of laughter with just a toilet door, it’s a side we’ve never seen to him but he plays it off like a comedy veteran. Crowe is brilliant as always but I cant help but feel he just showed up on set fifty pounds heavier and started breaking everyone’s limbs so Black just decided to start filming it. It’s just too natural for him.
Setting the film in the 70’s is great as Black really pokes fun at some of the absurdest moments the era, I saw some similarities to the 2014 film Inherent Vice (another great meandering film) although strangely enough The Nice Guys is both a funnier and more wacky film. The mix of comedy was really surprising throughout, there’s slapstick, plenty of zingers, self-depreciation and parody of the genre. One of my favourite moments played on the trope of goading a Gosling character to use his experience as a private eye, the scene has him finally crack and reveal where he thinks a piece of information will actually lead them,it’s a trope in these films we see a lot in these films but instead of moving to the plot the film has Gosling be completely wrong and the information should have been taken at face value.
There are definitely similarities to Black’s directorial debut Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and I’ve read a lot of people comparing the two. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang certainly set the template for The Nice Guys but I feel that Black has developed his writing and direction, a similar case would be Guy Richie’s debut with Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrel’s which was followed by Snatch, in both cases the debut were both in their own right fantastic efforts its just that the follow-up was a more refined product.
There was no doubt in my mind this film would be right up my street but I didn’t expect it to be my favourite film of the year so far. Shame on me for taking this long to see it.
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