The Nice Guys – Shane Black

The Nice Guys starring Ryan Gosling, Russell Crowe, and Angourie Rice.

The Nice Guys starring Ryan Gosling, Russell Crowe, and Angourie Rice.
Photo credit: Warner Bros.

The humour is clever – but not too clever – the violence is plentiful, and both are hilariously random. The Nice Guys centers around an unlikely pairing, a sleazy private investigator Holland March  (Ryan Gosling) and an independent enforcer Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe), who work together to find a young woman at the centre of some convoluted plot. It’s a buddy film where the buddies don’t really get along, which makes sense when you consider the other films written by the writer-director Shane Black: the Lethal Weapon movies and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. You may also remember the sharp dialogue between Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) and the young boy (Ty Simpkins, who happens to be in the opening scene) in Iron Man 3 – which was arguably the best part of the film – well, that was also Shane Black.

Ryan Gosling can do tragic romance (The Notebook), he can do romantic comedy (Crazy, Stupid, Love), he can do artsy, indie quirkiness (Lars and the Real Girl), he can do serious drama (Half Nelson, Blue Valentine) and now it’s clear that he can do slapstick comedy. He falls, he squeals, he gets drunk, he makes mistake after mistake, and it’s absolutely delightful. His actions most of the time leave his unlikely partner Healy in awe of his stupidity (much like Val Kilmer and Robert Downey, Jr. in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang). Their chemistry, however, is undeniable. To make up for March’s terrible investigative skills and his affinity for booze, his daughter Holly (newcomer, Angourie Rice) is also a prominent feature, working her way into most scenes with the two men. She is a great addition and certainly holds her own on the screen; she’s someone to watch for. Kim Basinger also makes a brief appearance in a supporting role.

The storyline, set in 1977 Los Angeles, is rife with craziness and absurdity; it’s all so ridiculous that it makes you giddy. Not everyone will enjoy this type of loose humour, but those who do will be laughing out loud. It is a completely different breed to action comedies like Deadpool, where the laughs are all gained from quick one-liners and fast talking comedians thinking of new ways to swear (also, grossing close to $800M worldwide…). In The Nice Guys, the jokes are more quirky and less in-your-face; you laugh because you aren’t sure what else to do.

The Nice Guys is rated R in the U.S. and 14:A in Canada for nudity, coarse language, violence, and sexual content. There’s enough of it to make some parents uncomfortable, so (young) family viewing isn’t recommended. The film is just shy of 2 hours, which is a nice change from the summer blockbusters currently in theatres.

The Nice Guys was released in North America on May 20, 2016 and can still be found in theatres.

Watch the official trailer here:

Noah – Darren Aronofsky


Noah starring Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson, and Anthony Hopkins

If you know the Director’s work well, the first thing you will be wondering is how Darren Aronofsky, who brought us films like Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan, could possibly make a movie based on the well-known Biblical story of Noah’s Ark. Noah is certainly Biblical and it is epic beyond-a-doubt, but it also incorporates that dark undertone that has made his films so popular. Right from the beginning, Noah takes a very different path from the story that most adults and children alike have come to know. At first it is intriguing, we see the characters develop and get pieces of a story we never knew existed…. and then come the talking rock people, or “guardians”. If you are able to fully accept these creatures after your initial “What the hell are these?!” response, then you may be able to get through the movie and you might even enjoy it. The majority of the population, however, will not. It might just be too ridiculous for the average viewer. Oddly enough, all of the world’s animals (in groups of two) making it onto an ark made out of wood is not the most unrealistic part of the movie – in fact, that part is almost believable.

Noah has all the makings of a blockbuster hit. It has the cast, with Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, and Emma Watson taking the lead. It has a 2+ hour running time and breathtaking visual effects. It also has an amazing Clint Mansell score to submerge the audience in the story and bring it all home. Unfortunately too many strange scenes and characters, coupled with some seriously dark and heavy religious elements, kill the movie for most people.

It should be noted that Russell Crowe did a fantastic job portraying Noah as a complex character who experiences extreme guilt but who also stands by his convictions. He’s gritty, passionate, complicated, and pretty bad-ass when it comes down to it. The movie’s failure to please the masses had nothing to do with the characters and everything to do with the story itself.

Unfortunately, those who watch Noah expecting a simple (and predictable) 21st century spin on a well-known religious story will be disappointed, but those who absolutely love Darren Aronofsky and understand his work will probably enjoy the film…if they can get past the rock people, that is.