Sunday, September 18, 2016
Review: The Nice Guys (2016)
Hope you like Christmas. Shane Black keeps his streak alive of recalling his usual trademarks (even a direct one from Last Action Hero) and gives us the gift of watching two lovable characters fumbling through a classic Schlubs v. Coverup scenario. No one writes reluctant partners, kills off background extras, or puts noir in a new setting quite like Black. Refreshingly, he's also unafraid of putting kids in incredibly adult situations ("Don't say 'and stuff.' Just say 'They're doing anal.'") and completely ignoring our discomfort at that prospect. An action film is an adult venture, but there's nothing that says it can't be fun for everybody.
It's a shame, therefore, that the plotting isn't as tight as Black's earlier efforts, that some jokes don't land and character arcs don't quite thread through the runtime; regarding that in particular, Crowe learning mercy even though describing the time he beat someone with a shotgun as the greatest day of his life and Gosling embarrassing his daughter with his drinking but solving a surprising amount of problems through it (and ending the film that way). These seem to be symptoms of a stretched pilot script, moments that would play correctly along a shorter time span and, at the very least, make a fairly major twist less obvious.
It's charming enough to make it all work. In a shockingly dismal year for Hollywood, The Nice Guys is not a beacon of hope but a torch in a mineshaft. It offers the opportunity for a sigh of relief, and it definitely deserves a sequel even if we all know it won't get one.