Sunday, October 9, 2016

Film Review: The Nice Guys (2016)

Copyright: Warner Bros. Pictures
This film tries to follow in the footsteps of those comedy films which try to extract the hardboiled detective and place it into the weird and wacky world of show business. While they’re funny, they also utilize real violence to create a mix most similar to a black comedy, but not quite there when it comes to satire or cynicism (which these lack).

Every couple of years, one or more movies like that come along and replace the previous reigning king. That is why Get Shorty, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and other ones like it always tend to stick around for a somewhat prolonged period of time, mostly by being inflated in value mainly by the audience which digs the violence-fame-jokes mix-up.

The Nice Guys is a perfect representative of this trend and like most, it tries to innovate the form at least a little. In this case, there are two hardboiled detectives, here private investigators, who are working on a case of a missing porn actress in LA in the late 1970’s. 

 First, one is really a classic thug PI and is played by a very aged and worn Russell Crowe while the other is an alcoholic dandy (yes, this 19th-century expression does really apply to him) played by increasingly uninteresting Ryan Gosling.

They set off to get to the bottom of the case while they encounter a colorful range of character, most of whom either hurt them or the opposite happens. Directed by Shane Black, it’s basically Kiss Kiss Bang Bang all over again, only Robert Downey Jr. got transformed into an overweight Crowe and a boring Gosling.

The plot is convoluted and fails to make any impact on the viewer, especially when it mutates into a lame conspiracy that just goes nowhere even in the most basic terms of showing the key villain and their henchmen. As if Black struggled with the exposition, mainly which character should he show for how long, the film tries its best to be dynamic and fun but manages to do this only in snippets.

The rest of the movie is dragged down by weird side-stories and unclear goals of anyone involved, especially when the daughter of Gosling’s character enters the plot as an important element. Here, Shane struggles to even adequately present her age, interest, and ultimate motivation, aside from the most obvious of protecting her dad, even though she is (apparently) 13-years old.

Elements like this are all over, making the film strange in a not-that-good way. Essentially, every big scene is a gamble where the viewers can get a funny interaction, something random that likely includes Gosling screaming in a fake high-pitched voice or just something that tries to develop a backstory and mystery but ends up looking weak and anemic. Even a few dream sequences that come completely from the left field and seem like they belong in movies like John Dies at the End also just drag on pointlessly.

Being a Hollywood private detective is certainly very interesting, but The Nice Guys make it look like something boring, strange and tedious.

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