The Nice Guys

May 22, 2016 at 6:32 pm | Posted in 2016 | Leave a comment
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Perhaps I was just in the right mood but I don’t know if I have laughed this hard in a movie theater since “Moonrise Kingdom” in 2012. Somehow, Shane Black, who is best known for the “Lethal Weapon” flicks, has managed to make a film lies on the better side of partway between the genius of “The Big Lebowski” and the amiable attempt that was “Inherent Vice.” Set in 1977, the film follows a private investigator (Ryan Gosling) and a bully-for-hire (Russel Crowe) as they try to solve a mystery involving a senator, a missing girl, environmentalism, the auto industry and “experimental porn.” Yes, it is as silly as it sounds and quite deliberately so. The film hinges on the chemistry between these two actors and their ability to make high-octane buffoonery engaging/endearing rather than affected/annoying. Fortunately, both men are willing to go all in, though most of the pure slapstick silliness belongs to Gosling. With scenes that, at times, reminded me of Abbott & Costello routines, the film can feel very retro, even beyond its 70s scenery. However, there’s something self-aware and referential that feels very modern, as well. Credit is also due to Angourie Rice, the young girl who plays Gosling’s 13 year old daughter; she held up amiably alongside these two stars. Most of the other actors and their characters were incidental, existing mostly as avenues to further absurdity. Though I have to give a nod to the understated use of Gil Gerard as an auto industry villain. For those who don’t know, Gerard was at the height of his fame in the late 70s playing Buck Rogers on the stunningly campy TV series, “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.” That was a nice touch in a fun, silly movie that was absolutely full of them.

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