Late Sunday night/early Monday AM, I was doing my usual #GodzillaVsKong thing with insomnia and losing yet again. Instead of putting on something I haven't seen and probably falling asleep (which typically happens at non-bedtimes), I put on something I've seen a bunch fruitlessly hoping it would put me down for the night.
Instead, for the next two hours I got sucked in yet again by one of the funniest movies of the twenty-teens and one that I think is criminially underseen, THE NICE GUYS. The 2016 action comedy directed by Shane Black and starring two phenomenal actors in Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe feels like classic L.A. movies were put into a blender and poured into a '70s-era margarita glass.
It's has that whole 'gets exponentially better and funnier with each viewing' vibe of THE BIG LEBOWSKI, not to mention the absolute dipshittery of the characters. The intricate, always-moving plot that takes you from one part of the sprawling city to another recalls the masterful L.A. CONFIDENTIAL (as do the shared and winking scenes with Crowe and Kim Basinger). The overall goofiness, hammy villians, and comical violence in pursuit of a piece of media will remind some of the Diceman cult classic THE ADVENTURES OF FORD FAIRLANE.
But the highlight of the movie is Gosling's sublime comedic performance. We saw that he could do funny after he coached up Michael Scott in CRAZY STUPID LOVE a few years prior. But I don't know if anybody knew he could be this funny. Whether it's his Chevy Chase-level pratfalls, deft comic timing, or bickering with his daughter about her language, it's an utterly hilarious performance that I Iaugh more at each time I watch it.
That's not to say Crowe isn't good. Quite the contrary. The burly and surly Aussie is excellent as well, just in a different way. I don't know that we ever saw him even try to be funny before this movie (comedy doesn't exactly seem like his default). But Crowe pulls it off with aplomb and is the perfect straight man to Gosling's jester---their chemistry is terrific. His delivery and comic timing were impressive though I'm not sure we should be surprised a thrice-nominated Oscar winner was great in a movie. I'd love to see him do a Farrelly Bros. comedy or something similar in the future.
I got a ton of great feedback after Tweeting about the movie. Many were saying it's the most underrated movie of the last decade/century/ever. Quantifying an 'underrated' movie is tough to do. Underrated by who exactly? Critics? The public? Twitter? Millennials? Zoomers? I think THE NICE GUYS is properly rated by those who have seen it. That is, they know that it's excellent. If anything, not enough people have seen it which doesn't make it 'underrated' just 'underseen'.
The other thing folks replied about was a sequel because we can't just leave things well enough alone anymore. Given that THE NICE GUYS didn't make a ton of money and was hardly a big hit, I doubt we'll see one because Hollywood only gives a fuck about making money. I'll concede that the ending does seem like a perfect segue into an '80s nostalgia-fest titled THE NICER GUYS a few years down the line. But I'm good. Given the steady stream of inferior cash-grabs posing as sequels, why would I clamor for a (likely) shitty version of something great? THE NICE GUYS is perfect as is. Don't ruin it.