The Nice Guys

The Nice Guys seems at least as much defined by what it isn’t as what it is. It isn’t a Will Ferrell, gross-out, over the top comedy. It isn’t a gag-fest. It isn’t a by the books buddy comedy. It isn’t a quirky, Wes Anderson, uncomedy either. I admire it for not being all those things. But I’m less sure it knows what it is. The take of two private eyes bumbling through a convoluted plot involving a missing woman in LA has so much cinematic baggage, from The Big Sleep, to Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang via Mulholland Drive and LA Confidential (which also featured both Basinger and Crowe lest we miss the reference) that it is placing itself at an immediate disadvantage.

The jokes don’t come thick and fast, but there are some laugh out loud moments. I’ve seen some people complain about the storyline – have these people ever seen the Big Sleep, Maltese Falcon or Chinatown? A twisting, barely comprehensible, and largely meaningless plot is the whole point of a noir movie. It is less a narrative arc than a narrative slug trail. The function of that plot is to allow other elements to be showcased – the seedy side of Hollywood say, or Humphrey Bogart being endlessly cool. The interaction between Gosling and Crowe is presumably the intended primary function here, and while neither are awful, they are also not quite sufficient enough to justify the long running time.

In the end, I sorta liked it for not being other things, in the same way you sorta support one team who are playing against another you don’t like. But when that team doesn’t win, you’re not invested in it.

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