For Reel

The Nice Guys (2016)
May 28, 2016, 7:18 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Shane Black
3.5 Stars
The Nice GuysNeedless to say, audiences have pined for their opportunity to see Ryan Gosling perform his best Lou Costello impression. Look no further! In The Nice Guys, director Shane Black wisely casts Gosling and Russell Crowe as an unlikely pair of detectives—if nothing else, these choices make the film a memorable one, allowing both the actors a certain levity that they often lack in too-serious roles. They both recall the clownish irony of buddy cop films of decades past, where the occasional ineptitude does not undermine the machismo. Black is no stranger to the genre, but the extent to which he embraces the pulpiness of the material is a welcome surprise. In the brilliantly provocative opening sequence, a young boy ogles an adult magazine before the woman he’s just been staring at comes hurdling through his living room in a runaway car. Often in The Nice Guys, Gosling and Crowe mourn the lost innocence of the new generation, and throughout Black returns to the idea of what it means to be a good, virtuous man. The notion is humorously juxtaposed with the excess of the rest of the picture—children are bound to be corrupt in a world demonstrated by the sleaze of both the pornographic and white-collar worlds. The question becomes, then, how does one pursue decency in a world where sin is so flagrant and eroticized? Black’s answer is far from a sermon on conservative values, but one more complicated on setting personal ethical codes. The two investigators aren’t necessarily “better” people by the end of the picture, but in this one instance they incidentally pursue a goal with noble intentions.

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