Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Nice Guys Review

Three major movies opened this past weekend. You saw my review for the most controversial one, The Angry Birds Movie. I'm not seeing Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising. Sorry. I usually don't bother with Seth Rogan raunch-coms. They don't appeal to me and thus I don't feel I'm the right one to give them a fair review. That leaves us one more movie from this past weekend and it's the one that got both the best reviews of the three as well as earned the least amount of money of the three. The Nice Guys. Personally I wasn't always sold on The Nice Guys. It was one that I was curious about and based on the hilarious trailers. But you can have a dumb movie that has a great trailer. Just go re-watch pretty much any of the Transformers trailers and my point is proven. So I played the wait and see game with The Nice Guys. If it turned out to be as good as everyone thought it was going to be, I was totally down. No, it didn't get the money, but it got the praise. One of my personal favorite critics, YouTuber Chris Stuckmann, even declared it as his favorite movie of the year. So here I am. No, I'm not going to go as high as Stuckmann did, but this movie surprised the heck out of me. I expected fun. I hoped for funny. What I got was a complete movie. It's a darn shame that this only earned $11.2 million this past weekend.

The Nice Guys is an action comedy set in the 1970's starring Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling and is directed by Shane Black. Basically it's the movie that last month's Keanu wanted to be. Not a bad first effort from Key and Peele by any means, but even though they hit hard on the comedy, they missed on the action and the movie also wasn't deep or emotional. The Nice Guys hit on all of those fronts. If you aren't familiar with writer/director Shane Black, I'm going to avoid the obvious for a second and state that this guy, as a screenwriter, was one of the big pioneers in the 80's/90's action genre as he wrote screenplays for movies such as Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout, Last Action Hero, and The Long Kiss Goodnight. As a director, the most well-known, straight-up Shane Black movie is the action comedy Kiss Kiss Bang Bang in 2005, which was his directorial debut. And yes, now I'll mention the obvious. He wrote and directed Iron Man 3, which definitely has a Shane Black feel to it. But I mention the other movies first because that is closer to what The Nice Guys is. Shane Black definitely knows how to do action, so I don't really know why I doubted in the first place, but oh well. It is what it is. If you're a Shane Black fan and you haven't already rushed out to see this movie, go do so as soon as you can.

As far as the story goes, Russell Crowe plays a guy who wants to make a difference. At the beginning of the movie, he's a hitman of sorts who is hired to go beat people up who deserve to be beaten up. Like a 30-year-old drug dealer selling pot to teenage girls. Ryan Gosling plays an actual private detective who's not the best at his job. At the beginning of the movie, a porn star shows up dead and Ryan Gosling is hired on to figure out what's going on. Also towards the beginning, Russell Crowe is hired to go beat Ryan Gosling up to get him off the case and he does so. Gosling is about to drop the case because Crowe is a boss in this movie who is much stronger than him. But one thing leads to another and the two end up as partners on this case. Yes, at the heart of this movie this is a murder mystery. Not only does this porn star show up dead, but there's a certain movie that she made where everyone a part of starts dropping like flies, so there's definitely something going on and Gosling and Crowe have to figure out what the heck is happening and figure out if they can stop it. I personally love murder mysteries, so I totally dug this story. Is it a murder mystery plot with a ton of twist and turns and is as unpredictable as a Sherlock Holmes story? Perhaps not. But it's still a lot of fun.

On top of this, when it comes to action comedies, this is practically perfect. As I mentioned, Shane Black knows how to do action and the action in this movie is phenomenal. Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling aren't actors that are necessarily known for being straight-up action stars, but man did they sell it well. Especially Crowe. He's done action movies before, so this isn't necessarily a new role for him, but he's the most boss that I've ever seen him in this movie. In fact, he did so good as an action star in this that he could totally go the Liam Neeson or Kevin Costner route and do a whole bunch action movies in his older age and I would totally buy it. Gosling also does well, but he's more of the clumsy action star who gets extremely lucky in every situation, which is hilarious in its own right and makes him and Crowe the perfect action duo. Speaking of hilarious, I loved how well they balanced the action and the comedy in this because this movie is absolutely hilarious the whole way through. I'm not just talking about your typical laughter. This has non-stop, gut-busting, make-you-lose-your-breath type of comedy throughout the whole run time. I honestly can't remember the last time I laughed this hard in a movie. Easily the funniest movie of the year. And yes, that is with Deadpool in mind. In fact, if you loved Deadpool, go see this movie like now.

Based on the trailers, I expected good action and good comedy. Or at least I hoped I would get that. What I didn't expect was a movie with a lot of heart and depth. The movie doesn't try to hit you over the head with emotion and that's why it works so well. It's essentially sprinkled throughout the movie and thus you get small doses of emotion that give a huge powerful punch. You end up caring for both Gosling and Crowe, whose backstories add a lot of depth to their characters  and both actors are talented enough to completely sell the emotion in these small doses while doubling as comedians and action stars in the movie. The glue that holds this emotion together is a 14-year-old Australian actress named Angourie Rice. Man, this girl is a revelation. I kid you not, her acting and comedic chops in the movie are on par with Gosling and Crowe. She plays Gosling's daughter in this movie and the father/daughter relationship between them is incredible because it's real. They've had a rough life together and he hasn't been the best father and she's pretty good at being brutally honest. Once Gosling and Crowe team up, she is also good at keeping Crowe in line as she ends up going along with them for a good part of the movie. Gosling obviously doesn't want her to, but she's a stubborn little girl and follows them around anyways, which is hilarious.

In the end, The Nice Guys is a movie that deserves your attention. If you like Shane Black or you like action comedies in general, this is one that is a must see. If you are still on the fence, think about Deadpool. If you loved Deadpool,then this is also a must see. I am among the crowd that loved Deadpool even if I wasn't quite as high as some people were. I still thought it was laugh-out-loud funny and an absolute blast when it came to the action. The Nice Guys, in my opinion, is even funnier than Deadpool and had better action sequences. It also had a lot more emotion than Deadpool and a better, more intriguing story. So yeah, if you loved Deadpool then see The Nice Guys. If you didn't like Deadpool and you aren't a fan of the action comedy genre for whatever reason, which is totally fine -- we're all entitled to our opinions, then this obviously isn't your movie, but you probably already knew that. But don't worry, your movies will come. This summer has a ton of variety. In my opinion, The Nice Guys also has the possibility of like old wine in a cellar in that it gets better over time. Not that I am a wine drinker, but you get the analogy. In a few months from now, I could look back at this movie and say that it is one of the best movies of the year. But I can't make that determination at this moment. For now, I'm just going to say it's pretty dang good and give it a 9/10.

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