Friday, 3 June 2016

The "Not So" Nice Guys

A mismatched pair of private eyes investigates the apparent suicide of a fading porn star in 1970s Los Angeles.

The Nice Guys reunites director and co-writer Shane Black and producer Joel Silver, who have previously given us the Lethal Weapon movies, The Last Boy Scout, and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang - among others. Where Mel Gibson and Danny Glover, Bruce Willis and Damon Wayans or Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer have gone before,  now we have the sublime pairing of Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling. 

Before our emotionally liberate 21st-century world invented the idea of the "bromance", we had the buddy comedy and the first reference that come to my mind is Roger Moore and Tony Curtis in The Persuaders on television. This film is an arch return to this tradition. Not unlike Deadpool, this is a rare American Studio movie willing to acknowledge the stupidity of mindless action with cathartic elements. The complex plotting bears a close resemblance to Inherent Vice in its dirty arrangement of events in which the main characters generally seem lost in the fog of their own pursuits. 

Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling are funnier than ever in this buddy movie about crime investigation. Though at the end of the third act, it sometimes shifts into more straightforward procedural details that lack the same spark as its stars. Still there's no doubting the appeal of these two bumbling entities. The Nice Guys delivers brilliant physical comedy, null the actor's ability to turn their screen presence into a punchline. In this movie, everyone is trolling everyone else. Ryan Gosling, among his many talents, has blossomed into an inspired physical comedian. While what's fun about watching Russel Crowe is that he treats the savagery of his job as casually as if he were filling out a tax form. Indeed, they are a brilliant pairing and fit like a glove. So well in fact that you will wonder why it didn't happen sooner. It's a Hollywood buddy pairing that leaves you wanting more - a sequel, if it happens, would be justified and welcome.

This movie is likely to score big with audiences, and for the same reason that it's proven to be a perfect fit. It's a treat to see popcorn movies this decadent made by people who know exactly what they're doing. Philippe Rousselot's cinematography gives L.A. a night bloom glow but not so much of a period authenticity, unfortunately. Finally, the hotel elevator scene, when the heroes duck back into the elevator with a "we don't need this" shrug. The timing of the gag is exquisite because it's Black's way of expressing what it feels like when whenever you're expecting is almost certain to turn out worse.

Overall, The Nice Guys is a cynical movie but yet more or less sympathetic. An innocent pleasure that you can just let slide.

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