Our film starts off like any classic detective story. A murder made to look like an accident, an unsuspecting witness making a terrible discovery, the dying murder victim using her last breath to relay one final clue to her murderer in classic Agatha Christie style. Only, there’s one slight twist here. The murder victim is a California Valleys porn star and her final words are, “How do you like my car, big boy?”.
And so we are flung into the darkly comic and violently hilarious world of Shane Black. The Nice Guys, his latest neo-noir crime comedy offering, filmed between his stints as a super-hero mogul director, follows in the same vein as his previous noir black comedy, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.
Please note: Trailer appropriate for age rating of movie.
Two men, one of them usually being some out-of-work private eye, are forced to go on a mad-cap ride of guns, murder, sex and odd-ball injuries, where moments of dark comedy are tempered with serious moments of violence.
For example, in The Nice Guys, our two heroes, Ryan Gosling’s hopelessly drunk gumshoe and Russell Crowe’s reservedly tough enforcer, accidentally stumble upon a dead body and, in comical fashion, dispose of it by throwing it over a nearby fence and, unsuspectingly, disrupting a garden party going on below.
In the very next scene, both men are thrown into just one of many hugely tense action-packed scenes, which end with Russell Crowe’s character smothering a badly injured, brutal mob killer in revenge for a beating he’d received from said mob killer earlier in the film.
But, what truly sets this film apart from others like it in previous years, like Inherent Vice, is that it’s two leading stars know not to make themselves too serious or too flippant in this type of film. They know that this film is more about the comic element than it is about the mob violence.
Like The Big Lebowski or the aforementioned Inherent Vice, the plot of The Nice Guys works much better as a comic film than it does a thriller. I, for one, found that I laughed more than I did find myself on the edge of my seat.
It has also followed a trend recently established by David O. Russell’s American Hustle, another darkly comic crime film. That is of doing a 1970’s period film, much in the same way one would do a Victorian period drama, with costumes, music and the culture of the day extensively researched and recreated onscreen.
The Nice Guys is the perfect film for a boys night out, no doubt. It has everything needed to fulfil those requirements: guns, violence, sex, brief nudity and the odd few moments of stoner comedy inserted here and there for levity.
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