Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Nice Guys (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

The Nice Guys

In the 1980s and early 90s, comedy films were king and this was true of the buddy cop genre, specifically the "Beverly Hills Cop" and "Lethal Weapon" series. As the years passed, these films gave way to big screen epics, most notably big screen adventure or science fiction films. The movie screen became less like a window and more like a virtual realm.

Well, it is 2016 and who says you can't travel back in time? You certainly will when watching Shane Black's "The Nice Guys" a retro cop comedy very much in the style of Richard Donner or Joel Schumacher. The film is lively, colorful and irreverent with action that is truly nonstop. For those that say this is really nothing new. Fair enough. But the jokes are so deadpan and direct that you will laugh in spite of it all.

Jack (Russell Crowe) is a nonchalant hired gun who throttles people for money whether they deserve it or not. Holland (Ryan Gosling) is a passive detective who just takes his clients money without following up on solid leads. Add to this the fact that he is lazy and accident prone and you have quite a mixture of traits.

Jack is protecting stalkers from young teens while Holland is basically feeling sorry for himself. The two men meet up in a violent encounter of a missing girl, Amelia (Margaret Qualley) who is enmeshed in a mystery involving porn. After a scuffle, the two agree to join efforts to find the girl or at least to get to the heart of things.

The fun of the film is merely the fact that Gosling and Crowe are playing against type and have the looseness necessary to make fun of their formidable onscreen personas. Holland looks like an actor from a stag film with a long drooping mustache, while Jack is a caricature of Mel Gibson.

The pair get into many scrapes and misadventures mostly due to the fact that neither of them are quick enough.

Gosling is perfect as a terrified Lou Costello. He even shrieks at a very high pitch. Crowe will have you laughing as well, given that his character is so overconfident and in control that it renders him silly. Angourie Rice as Holland's daughter nearly steals the film. Rice plays a good-natured pre-teen girl with a glibly  acidic tongue.

While the narrative is directly taken from many films with good and bad clearly defined, the humor is right out of Jerry Zucker's "Airplane!" The two ne'er do wells take themselves far too seriously and consequently accomplish very little.

The swift direction by Black (the writer of Lethal Weapon) turns this film into something conceptual and almost arty in an odd way.

"The Nice Guys" is a Pop Art time capsule in the way that films once were with jarring noise, clashing color and snarky, homicidal villains. Actor Matt Bomer is John Boy, a laconic and sinister loon from "The Matrix" era. For dessert, there is one scene that dizzily recalls both "Lethal Weapon" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark" which defies description.

Be sure to leave your logical senses behind and allow yourself to experience all of the bone-crunching bonhomie with a pair of shifty guys.

"The Nice Guys" takes you back for a beating and doesn't disappoint.

Write Ian at ianfree1@yahoo.com

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