The Nice Guys (2016): written by Shane Black and Anthony Bagarozzi; directed by Shane Black; starring Russell Crowe (Jackson), Ryan Gosling (Holland), Angourie Rice (Holly), Matt Bomer (John Boy), Margaret Qualley (Amelia Kuttner), and Kim Basinger (Judith Kuttner): Writer (Lethal Weapon) and occasional director (Iron Man 3) Shane Black really loves buddy movies. And movies set in Los Angeles. Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling are the unlikely duo here as hired muscle and private eye, teaming up to solve a missing persons case tied somehow into the American auto industry. Did I mention it’s 1977? It’s 1977.
Black gives Gosling’s character a much less foul-mouthed version of Bruce Willis’ daughter in The Last Boy Scout and a much less gay partner than Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’s Val Kimer in Russell Crowe. Crowe, unshaven and lumpy, looks like he’s auditioning to play a young John Goodman. And he’s great! The movie is violent, quippy, shaggy fun, a throwback to buddy movies that were violent, quippy, shaggy fun. Recommended.
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005): written by Brett Halliday and Shane Black; directed by Shane Black; starring Robert Downey Jr. (Harry), Val Kilmer (Perry), Michelle Monaghan (Harmony), and Corbin Bernsen (Dexter): Violent, quippy, twisty fun from Shane ‘Iron Man 3‘ Black. Val Kilmer is surprisingly light and funny as the LA Private Eye everyone calls ‘Gay Perry.’ Robert Downey, Jr. is also light and funny as a thief who stumbles into a case involving suicide, murder, and missing persons. And Michelle Monaghan makes for a great gal pal who may also be a femme fatale. The movie’s ‘chapters’ all use the titles of works by Raymond Chandler, first famous chronicler of LA PI’s. Like most great PI stories, it’s narrated (by Downey’s character). Unlike most of them, people keep correcting the narrator’s grammar. Terrific cult fun. Highly recommended.