Oscar contention in May?
The Nice Guys (2016): A mismatched pair of private eyes investigate the apparent suicide of a fading porn star in 1970s Los Angeles. (114 Minutes)
Wow where did this movie come from? When I saw the trailers for this flick I thought it looked.....quirky. I honestly wasn't sure director Shane Black could take on this style of film. I mean sure he directed Kiss Kiss Bang Bang so I knew he could handle the voiceovers, but could he handle a Wes Anderson level of attention to detail in the set design? Could he handle a Paul Thomas Anderson/David O. Russel kind of storyline? Well, after watching the movie, the answer is.....yes and no. Yay vague answers! So, for starters, he nails the set here. Maybe a little too much so, as there were a few 70's references that felt like references for the sake of references. But the houses, the interiors, and the costumes all screamed 70s. The story....I think I'll say the story was far better than Inherent Vice, but not quite as good as American Hustle. Now, that's a pretty wide spectrum there I know, but honestly to me this is the film that inherent Vice should have been, but the wackiness of the third act here just got to be too much for me. Hence why it's not as good as American Hustle. Ok so now that I've properly confused you, let's dive in!
Let's talk positives. The set design is where I would expect an Oscar nomination. The Academy loves this sort of set design, and for good reason! There's attention to detail everywhere, particularly in Gosling's apartment. Actually, Gosling's character as a whole was a walking 70's cliche and I loved it. Additionally, the hippie scenes were some of the funniest scenes in the film, and the "damsel-in-distress" character was the embodiment of this in the film. She was hysterical. For that matter I laughed a LOT during this film. A lot more than I was expecting to. This film is absolutely hilarious, but the quirky, witty banter we see here has always been a strong point of director/writer Shane Black. Just re-watch Lethal Weapon if you need more proof of that. The acting was also fantastic. Gosling had this weird accent early on in the film that he dropped pretty quickly, but after that he was hilarious, and Russell Crowe was, well, Russell Crowe. The one who stole the show for me, though, was newcomer Angourie Rice. This is only her second major supporting role, and we may have a new Chloë Grace Moretz on our hands here. She is wildly talented as she is asked to basically outact Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe. Which she does. I look forward to seeing what she does next because if she plays her cards right (and doesn't start picking films like a Carrie remake and Muppets Most Wanted) we may have a future superstar on our hands. Also gotta give a shoutout to now superstar kid actor Ty Simpkins (Jurassic World, Insidious, Iron Man 3) showing up in this film for LITERALLY a single scene. That was very funny to me because I thought Jurassic World was by far his weakest performance. We'll see if his career is ultimately just that brief.
But in everyone's life some rain must fall. This film is not perfect by any means. There were definitely more 70s references than there needed to be, and that took me out of the film overall at times. However by far the biggest problem with this film is the final action sequence. To me it felt kind of out of place for a noir film, which is ultimately what this is paying homage to, and it had me crossing my arms and shaking my head in disapproval. Shane Black went full Iron Man 3 here and had a HUGE action setpiece that just didn't fit with the rest of the film. That said was the scene still witty and funny and fun-to-watch? Yes. But it definitely felt like a superhero scene (Gosling even pulled his best Captain America during it) than noir piece. I mean my biggest complaint about LA Confidential, (another film starring Russell Crowe) which I believe is one of the best film noir pieces ever made, was the fact that the final showdown was a bit on over rambunctious side, but it's NOTHING compared to what we got in The Nice Guys. Before that I was looking to give this film a 9. Now....gotta dock the score a little bit. That said, this is a heck of a good film, especially for May as we head into summer blockbuster season, and will certainly get some Oscar attention come the end of this year. Go see it.
The Critique: A gem of a film, The Nice Guys is a witty and comedic ode to the classic film noir genre, despite an overzealous finale.
The Recommendation: I'd say anyone would like it, but I think the older generation will enjoy this film a lot more than my age group.
The Verdict: 8/10 Great
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