Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Film Review: "The Nice Guys" (2016).

"They're not that nice."
This is certainly true about The Nice Guys. This neo-noir crime buddy comedy film directed by Shane Black and written by Black and Anthony Bagarozzi. The film centres on a mismatched pair of private eyes as they investigate the apparent suicide of a fading porn star in 1970s Los Angeles.

In June 2014, it was announced that Shane Black would direct a film titled The Nice Guys, with Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling starring, Joel Silver producing and Warner Bros. distributing domestically. The project was initially proposed as a TV series but was re-tooled as a film after the pilot seemed to be going nowhere. In September, Angourie Rice, Margaret Qualley and Matt Bomer was joined the cast. In October, Beau Knapp, Keith David and Kim Basinger were added to the cast. In November, Ty Simpkins and Jack Kilmer were added to the cast. Principal photography began in October 2014, in Atlanta and Decatur, Georgia. Filming also took place in Los Angeles. Downtown Atlanta doubled for 1970's Los Angeles during filming. Prop cars were given California plates and a car was painted to resemble a 70's era L.A. cab, "Hollywood Taxi Co". Since one of the film's plot points is focused on the porn industry, references can be spotted throughout the film. One notable example is that a guest at the porno producer's party who is dressed up like Pinocchio says, "It's not my nose that grows". "It's not his nose that grows" was the tagline for a 1970's pornographic version of Pinocchio.

The film stars Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Angourie Rice, Matt Bomer, Margaret Qualley, Keith David and Kim Basinger. The cast gave superb performances, especially to Crowe and Gosling. Who made a surprisingly electric and dynamic duo, reminiscent of Black's other crime duos such as Riggs and Murtaugh from the Lethal Weapon series, and Lockhart and Shrike from Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

The Nice Guys' tongue-in-cheek satire blends well with the entertaining action and spot-on performances in this eccentric neo-noir homage. The film contains one of Gosling's most enjoyable performances, and one of Crowe's funniest. It's a relationship comedy wrapped in sharp talk and gunplay. It is a triumphant comeback for Black, after the lukewarm film that was Iron Man 3, and one of the year's best movies. It takes a bunch of genres and twists them into a blender, a pop relic that still feels current. Even though the film contains a lot of comedy and invention, it doesn't benefit much from its clever style. The plot of the film is almost willfully convoluted. But it's also largely beside the point, an excuse for quite a few good scenes, most of them equal parts homage and subversion. But the film is such a delightful bombardment, we barely notice that Black's convoluted, serpentine plot doesn't make a lick of sense. Overall, it was a sarky, sniping film noir homage that assassinates the character of every LA archetype you could imagine. It was also certainly one of the best times I've had at the movies this year.

Simon says The Nice Guys receives:

Also, see my review for Iron Man 3.

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