One of my favorite movies is Shane Black’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Not only is it a great film, but we also get to witness the juxtaposition of Val Kilmer peaking1 with Robert Downey, Jr.’s post-junkie comeback. They were two ships passing in the night, sailing to two very different destinations.Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’s spiritual successor arrived in 2016, with Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling heading The Nice Guys. I suppose one could say the two actors share similarities with Kilmer and Downey, Jr., but in all fairness, Crowe still hasn’t made his Twixt.
Set in the late 1970s, two private investigators get mixed up in a murder case in the seedy underbelly of LA, where the femmes are fatale, and the ups are covered. Yes, this is a neo-noir, paired with the patented stylings of Shane Black’s bromances.
Oh, the bromance… Black pretty much invented the modern-age cop-bromance genre with Lethal Weapon, and I find it a strangely becoming part of his movies. You kind of expect these films going the whole «where men are men» route, but while the male protagonists certainly have their noir-style macho side, Black always give them a normal sensibility. They’re flawed characters, but as is the case with The Nice Guys, they’re also relatable. Gossling’s character’s daughter is more than a comic relief, and it’s downright adorable how much Crowe wants her to like and approve of him.
It gives The Nice Guys that touch of heart you possibly wouldn’t expect, and as opposed to classic noirs, there is a lot less cynicism in the main characters. They are flawed but likable, and the actors have a great chemistry. You get the impression they enjoy being in the movie, and that makes the experience—grim plot aside—enjoyable for us, too.
Other than that, The Nice Guys follows the noir formula from Kiss Kiss Bang Bang pretty closely. The storyline is a bit of a maze, but comes together nicely in the end, and the whole thing is stylishly shot. Very 1970s.
It also ended up losing money at the box-office, which is just a tragedy. I mean, really. In that sense it just seems fitting for 2016 when… Well, we all know what happened.
Now you have the chance to right your sins. Granted, you still have to choose a digital rental (or purchase) service, but that’s a valid charity at this point…
… and it is the only way for America to start its healing.
1 And boy does he fall far from that summit.