The Nice Guys

Shane Black

Tedious, overlong, unfunny, distasteful, lazy. Why should I waste my time writing about this film? Sorry Shane, but trying to recapture the heights of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang means more than putting two seemingly mis-matched stars, throwing in lots of crashing action, bad style (cos it’s the 70s, geddit?), porn, and a sassy kid. And just because Chandler writes plots that don’t hold together but triumphantly succeed it doesn’t mean just anyone can. This tale of two hapless private eyes stumbling their way through some cockamemie plot about a missing girl, a porn star called Misty Mountains (for lots of the film I thought they were one and the same person) and a dastardly scheme by the all-powerful motor moguls of Detroit (ha ha, funny one that) cascades between several stools, bruising itself badly at each one.

It could have been a daft comedy à la Crosby and Hope; it could have been genuinely thrilling amid the funniness. It could have been more outrageously, satirically, 70s – as it is because the characters are all such foul people you kind of forget about its periodness all together and think they’ve just got bad taste. It could have made the plot a bit more intriguing so we were actually interested in seeing what happened next. Or it could have got us onside with these two blokes so we actually cared a bit about their never-convincing bromance, or feel our hearts warming to the soppy stuff about Holland March (Ryan Gosling) and his smart daughter.

As it is, Ryan’s shady looking spiv of a gumshoe just gets tedious with his running joke of always falling off things, and the somewhat portly Russell Crowe’s languid hitman, Jackson Healey, always looking a bit too intelligent for a man who lives by his violence, breaks far too little sweat, except when picking up silly old Ryan when he’s fallen off yet another balcony, rooftop, or cliff, or the unedifying moment when he’s throttling an already mortally wounded baddy. Or it could just have been a lot sharper and slicker – because, though it obviously thinks it is, it isn’t even that. A half laugh might have crept to my lips perhaps twice. And I did kind of admire the way they got rid of a key character unexpectedly in Janet Leigh/Psycho fashion. But that’s about it.

But mostly – aren’t we all a bit weary of watching things and bodies breaking in the name of excitement?

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