Black back on fa­mil­iar ground

Rutherglen Reformer - - The Ticket -

Rus­sell Crowe and Ryan Gosling might not sound like the most ob­vi­ous com­edy duo – but Shane Black doesn’t do ob­vi­ous.

The di­rec­tor who made a neo-noir black com­edy with Val Kilmer as a gay pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tor (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) and con­tro­ver­sially turned clas­sic comic book vil­lain The Man­darin into a drunk Ben Kings­ley in Iron Man 3 helms only his third movie fol­low­ing decades of script con­tri­bu­tions for ev­ery­thing from Lethal Weapon to The Mon­ster Squad.

This time around he trav­els back to 1970s Los An­ge­les for a com­edy-crime ca­per with Crowe ( Jack­son Healy) and Gosling (Hol­land March) play­ing a pair of pri­vate eyes in­ves­ti­gat­ing the ap­par­ent sui­cide of fa­mous porn star Misty Moun­tains (Murielle Te­lio).

Don’t go in ex­pect­ing a full-on bro­mance, though. These two are at each oth­ers throats through­out in a prickly bond rem­i­nis­cent of Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr’s in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

But don’t worry, the mis­matched leads still pro­vide plenty of laughs as Black and co-writer An­thony Ba­garozzi (mak­ing his fea­ture film bow) throw ev­ery­thing from phys­i­cal com­edy and prat­falls to good old fash­ioned farce at the screen.

Crowe has never turned his hand to com­edy be­fore – un­less you count his un­in­ten­tion­ally hi­lar­i­ous croon­ing in Les Misérables – but his put-upon, throw punches-ask ques­tions later en­forcer be­longs firmly within the genre.

Gosling is less of a fun­ny­bone-tick­ling novice (Crazy, Stupid, Love., this year’s The Big Short) so it’s per­haps no sur­prise that he just out­shines his co-star, not least by dis­play­ing a real knack for phys­i­cal com­edy.

The phrase “a Shane Black movie” is of­ten used among Hollywood cir­cles and movie crit­ics and The Nice Guys in­cludes just about ev­ery one of the di­rec­tor’s trade­marks.

There’s the two lead males, snappy dia­logue, im­plau­si­ble-sound­ing sce­nar­ios grounded in reality, bursts of vi­o­lence and – yes – a Christ­mas-set scene.

The over-fa­mil­iar­ity may grate with some, but when you’re mix­ing this much emo­tional depth with laugh-out-loud es­capades and colourful char­ac­ters, it’s hard not to tip your hat to such a skilled au­teur.

Black clearly knows his film noirs too and pays re­spect to the genre with hood­lums with a pen­chant for rough­ing peo­ple up, femme fatales and shady govern­ment of­fi­cials.

He stays clear of com­pletely de­sat­u­rat­ing his lat­est flick with lit­eral and the­o­ret­i­cal dark­ness, though, by mak­ing the most of its seven­ties set­ting, not least dur­ing a mem­o­rable porn party bathed in more colours than a box of tie-dye t-shirt.

The slightly over­con­vo­luted plot does run out of steam and the con­clu­sion teases a se­quel that, given the rar­ity of Black step­ping be­hind the cam­era, won’t see the light of day for years – if at all.

New bud­dies Crowe and Gosling have a ball back in the seven­ties

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.