The Nice Guys is a film written and directed by Shane Black, who is most recently famous for writing and directing Iron Man 3 (AKA, the death of the stand-alone Iron Man movies). Black was originally famous for writing the majority of the Lethal Weapon series, which may not be the original, but definitely owned the buddy-cop movie genre in the late 80’s.
To me, buddy-cop movies are always hit-or-miss. There have been a few decent ones in recent memory, one of which seems to have been the inspiration for this film’s title, The Other Guys. Films in this genre tend to follow the same general plot-line and the same roles for their main characters. That being said, I need to say that I don’t really think The Nice Guys was an exception to this rule at all. I was very excited to see this movie, especially after seeing the fantastic reviews it was receiving pre and post-release (it currently has a 90% on Rotten Tomatoes). But after seeing the film and leaving the theater, I was almost conflicted, because I so desperately wanted to love this movie. Was it bad? No. But it did not live up to my expectations at all.
I’m becoming a little concerned with the trend my reviews seem to be taken. Looking back at my more recent reviews, you’ll find that many are about currently critically acclaimed films that are doing very well for themselves in the box-office and especially among the film community as a whole. I wanted to take a moment to ensure to my readers that I am not a contrarian. I will never not like a film simply for its popularity or undeserving high-praise. I will only ever give you honest reviews, even if it means going against the rest of the film community.
This aspect of the film is what really concerned me the most. The first act of this story is very slow, and borderline stupid. I found it very hard to laugh at the absurdity of the characters and the choices they make in the beginning of the film. I will say that the first half does a pretty good job of developing the characters, but a very poor job of developing the plot. To me, the first half was way too similar to The Big Lebowski, but wasn’t nearly as charming or funny. Two guys are looking for a young woman who has gone missing and doesn’t want to be found, she is very close to someone very rich and powerful, there may or may not be people trying to kill her, and the porn industry is very involved in the story’s plot. If you can sit there and tell me that if I added bowling somewhere into mix of that description that I still wouldn’t be talking about The Big Lebowski, then you must be crazy.
The second half of the film (although I want to say is way too similar to The Other Guys) definitely picks things up. I was laughing for most of the second half and thought the writing was very clever. All the things I thought were meaningless time wasters actually ended up making sense as the movie progressed.
One thing in particular that really “bugged” me about the film was the hallucination sequence that is probably right at the half-way point. I hate hallucination sequences, especially in comedy movies, because they seem to be very lazily written in and really do not advance the plot in any way. Very rarely do I find them funny, and this one was no exception.
The characters, though not very charming or smart in the beginning, definitely evolve as the film progresses. Though we’re only ever really given 4 distinct characters (no one else has enough lines to really count as a fully-fledged character), these 4 were able to hold my interest for quite a while. But, as always, good characters rely heavily on…
Ryan Gosling is great and has once again shown audiences that he is not just a pretty boy that will inspire women everywhere to come and purchase a movie ticket. Though Russel Crowe is a typical Russel-Crowey type character, he definitely worked better than I expected for the comedy of this film.
But I think one of the best performances to come out of this film was one from Angourie Rice (best known for her role in… Walking with Dinosaurs 3D???). She was excellent. While her character as the too-smart-for-their-own-good child is a bit cliche, she definitely pulled it off and was very fun to watch.
I had only two problems with this film in this aspect:
- Ryan Gosling tries WAY too hard in certain scenes. Ryan, you’re a funny guy on your own, you don’t need to try and be a Will Ferrell type character.
- Ryan Gosling, Russel Crowe, Angourie Rice, and Margaret Qualley are the only people whose characters felt important to the story. The antagonists of this film seem to get a combined total of 7 minutes of screen time in a 1 hour and 56 minute movie.
For a comedy, I was pretty impressed with the cinematography in this film. The city-scape really feels like LA in the 70’s in all of its smog-filled glory. The action sequences are very well choreographed and shot for a comedy film as well. It may not be a stand-out film in the visuals department, but it works very well for a film based in the 70’s.
Earth, Wind, and Fire have a cameo in this film, so you know all the music is going to be great. The opening shot starts with “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” by The Temptations, so I immediately had high expectations for the soundtrack and score of this movie.
X-Factor: 7/10, Self-Control
For a film whose plot revolves heavily on the Porn Industry and is set in the cocaine-induced frenzy of the 70’s, this film has a ton of self-control. There are so many opportunities for the writers to throw in a cliched and unnecessary sex scene, but there are literally no sex scenes in the film. Granted, there is quite a bit of nudity. But I want to congratulate the writers for not giving into the trend of just half-assing a sex scene into a film that is so sexually charged.
The Nice Guys is a fun film if you can make if through the slow and unfunny first 30 minutes or so. I think that nostalgia has played a huge part in the overwhelmingly positive reviews that this film is receiving. That could be nostalgia for the era that this movie takes place in, or nostalgia for the genre, because it definitely has a Lethal Weapon feel to it, even if it is more similar to The Big Lebowski and The Other Guys than people are willing to admit. If you have the time and a spare couple of dollars, I would recommend seeing it just so you can see what all the hype is about for yourself.