The Nice Guys (2016)

<strong class="MovieTitle">The Nice Guys</strong> (2016)

(Video on Demand, September 2016) Hollywood circa 2016 is not a good place for film such as The Nice Guys. Hollywood demands spectacles, special effects, media tie-ins and easily digestible entertainment—it’s not so fond of R-rated 1970s-set semi-realist crime/comedy hybrids with a snarky tone, expensive lead actors, and unconventional narrative beats. So it’s a bit amazing that The Nice Guys managed to get made and got good reviews … but not so amazing that it did poorly at the box office, making it unlikely that such movies will come back on Hollywood’s radar any time soon. Still, let’s appreciate what we’ve got: Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling in fine form, forming an unlikely pair of investigators untangling a complex disappearance case against a backdrop of adult movies and industrial corruption. Writer/director Shane Black makes a great follow up to his previous Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, combining wit and narrative polish in the service of an enjoyable crime/comedy mix. It’s not necessarily conventional (by the end of the film, it’s an open question as to whether the two protagonists have actually accomplished anything) but it is enjoyable and off-beat enough. The atmosphere of 1977 is credibly re-created and Black’s typical wit shines through the snappy dialogue, absurd situations and off-beat story choices. The Nice Guys is worth tracking down, if only as a peek at what movies we could have had Hollywood not completely sold out to the megaplex paradigm.

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