NICE GUYS HAS a few brilliant moments and an occasionally inspired piece of script writing, but overall it feels like one of those movies shaped by focus group research and a squadron of script doctors.
Unlike the truly great buddy movies (Butch Cassidy… Beverly Hills Cop, Trading Places, Rush Hour, Men in Black, Bad Boys etc) when you can feel the affection between the buddies despite (or maybe because of) their differences, this one feels like two separate and not very interesting or funny characters who happen to be sharing a story. Said story (set in 1977) is a series of brain storm vignettes in search of an idea and patched together probably by an accountant (which is surprising as its author, Shane Black gave us classics like “The Long Kiss Goodnight” and “Lethal Weapon”)
It centres around the picaresque search for a, possibly dead, porn actress who’s made a cause-related porn film; one that uses nudity and sex (natch) to highlight the plight of birds; they’re dying due to cars without catalytic converters. WTF you may well say. That’s the plot line?
The intent is to splice the film into a documentary about cars to be shown at the Detroit motor show. Huh?
You might call it an auto erotic protest. You might call it other things.
Even if you’re prepared to lower your demands for a coherent plot in service to the higher authority of good comedy and farce, you’d still be challenged to find this one worth following. Bad guys arrive and shoot people from time to time; we trail through a boobs dense Playboy type pool party; bodies turn up in unexpected places and Kim Bassinger (whose Botox-ed face is now immobile) steps in as a crooked Head of the Department of Justice.
Director/writer Black (who also directed Iron Man 3), perhaps listening too much to those focus groups, must have continuously sought to up the ante on farce even if it made no contribution to either sense or comedy.
Russell Crowe is the heavy (literally. This is a very portly version of the Gladiator) who beats up people (but mainly bad people who deserve his fists of fury). Ryan Gosling is a brain challenged, alcoholic, unscrupulous private investigator who we know is good, really…honestly, because he’s a caring (if eccentric) dad to the kind of kid that only appears in American movies: the sassy kid (Angourie Rice).
I guess both leading men, after a decade of ‘serious’ felt they wanted to display their comedic talents.
And maybe one day, that day will come
NICE GUYS. Dir/writer: Shane Black. With Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling. Angourie Rice, Matt Bomer. Cinematographer: Philippe Rousselot (Sherlock Homes: A Game of Shadows)