The Nice Guys

The Nice Guys

Broadly speaking, not for me. Tonally I think it is all over the place - a big mess. It contains slapstick comedy pitched on a variety of scales and at varying different levels of violence, verbal humour both vanilla and considerably more fruity, brief attempts at emotional connection and growth if not outright transcendence (of its throwaway noir pastiche anyway)… and a whole bunch of other things not really worth going into. It is a big grab-bag of stuff, not blended together very carefully. It has all sorts of contradictory elements rubbing up against one another, but not in a way that feels challenging or provocative or genuinely explosive. It feels like a first draft of a film that required considerable refinement to find itself. As a result, there's a fair few moments in there that seemed really ill-judged to me, starting with an incredibly inappropriate opening scene, which whether intended to be comedic or dramatic (and who can tell?) lost my sympathies for the film from the get-go, and it never really recovered them. It is extremely erratic thereafter; it never settled, and neither did I.

The funny thing is, it does have an incredible number of laughs. For a movie I largely disliked, it must have the biggest number of moments I found funny (and not just a little either) of just about anything I've seen. Like, upwards of a dozen, maybe even 20, real laughs. A lot. Still quite a small percentage of the times it actually tries to make me laugh, mind. But there's just so much rammed into this film that even though its hit rate isn't superlative, I still ended up finding it more entertaining that a lot of comedies I think are much more successful as films.

The two leads are good together, and I think I quite like Ryan Gosling's performance in particular, but the best reason to see this movie is young Angourie Rice, a relative newcomer who brings wit, intelligence and spunk in impressive quantity as Gosling's 13 year old daughter. Clearly one to watch, if she gets the roles. She has a natural screen presence which is wise well beyond her years, and she is super.

For those three performances, some pretty decent set and people dressing (70s LA is always a great look for a film if done well), and for the sheer quantity of gags, this is worth watching. And if your taste in comedy is different to mine - as I gather some people's is - you may even get more like 80 laughs to my 20. But I still think it's all over the shop, no matter your personal predilections. I thought similarly about Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang as I recall. Still not impressed with Shane Black as a director. It feels like he lacks focus. But, he will always be the dude who wrote The Monster Squad, so that's a free pass for me to check out his next film anyway, the lucky devil.