I’m gonna preface this with stating that this is my favorite comedy since the Cornetto Trilogy (which, by the way, if you don’t know what that is, please Google it, they’re fantastic movies) or Super Troopers (also a great movie).
I’m gonna be honest, the 70’s nostalgia was a big selling point for a lot of audience members but it really didn’t do anything for me one way or the other. I’ve been hearing people praise its 70’s nostalgia without giving any thoughts on the actual body of work itself, and I think that begins to detract from the movie. But in terms of pulling it off, they definitely did–I didn’t catch any typical period film mistakes like putting a 2016 bag of chips in a store or something, so I did like how thorough they were with staying true to the film and not cutting corners.
In generality, I found a lot of things about this film very interesting and unique. For example, comedies are typically shot in less of a wide format, like a 1.30:1-1.50:1 aspect ratio, to give comedic actors more vertical room to play with and to make the film seem more welcoming or inviting–but The Nice Guys was shot in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio, which in layman’s terms is the American standard for widescreen, and is the second widest format that filmmakers can screen at. This choice of format by the Cinematographer pushes the idea that this is more than just a typical comedy, it has a story to tell and it gives the film a nice body to it that really has the subconscious effect of leading the audience to think of the film as a drama with funny parts, possibly to try and get the comedic timing to catch the audience more off-guard, and this can be seen in the choice of lighting as well. Also, there were some times where I thought for sure something wasn’t going to happen and it did, or vice versa, and because of that I really like how the story progressed organically, it was, at times, a little predictable, and at others quite the contrary. It was very well-written for a comedy, and everything flowed organically due to both the flawless performances and the “comedy of errors” type of progression, and even makes fun of itself a little, almost breaking the 4th wall a couple times.
This paragraph will be all about timing–because that’s what makes comedy work and that’s what worked well in this film, and they did it so well it deserves its own dedicated paragraph. A lot of the dialogue was funny, sure, and the acting was phenomenal, but really what made this movie one of the funniest I’ve seen is the timing of punchlines and the attention to detail. One of the shots that perfectly depicts this takes place at a huge party, where mermaids are swimming in the pool that can be seen through windows inside the house. There’s quite some set-up of mermaids swimming around and flirting and what not, but the payoff, which worked very well for me at least, is that the last shot we see mermaids is through the window behind the bar–we see a mermaid slowly swim by, pause, then we see Ryan Reynolds, drunk, frantically swimming after her in his underwear and cast on his arm. That shot killed me and is just one example of the timing, which can be seen throughout the film in the perfect chemistry Ryan Reynolds has with Russel Crowe on screen. Their banter is even better than Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law in the Sherlock films, which was great to say the least. Along with timing was the pacing, and I loved how this movie was never serious for too long nor too funny to take it seriously–and even though it was a film revolving around the porn industry, it was never raunchy for too long either. After some serious bit of information is given or thematic statement is told, one of the funnier jokes will be there to back it up to not have it get too slow or lose track of it being a comedy.
If you’ve read my other reviews you know I’m big on character development, and I must say that for a comedy, this film does exceedingly well at giving its many characters a full body and not just a facade. At any point in time I knew why the character was doing what he was doing and that made me think less about the story, opening me up to being amused and laughing hysterically. In addition to this, it also provided for some moving points in the story.
Visually, this stays true to a period piece and all of the visuals were in an attempt to match and place and time in an era that has passed, so visually I really enjoyed its body–the color palette was inviting and the DP balanced the upbeat lighting of a comedy and the contrast of a drama very well, almost giving visual queues of when its supposed to be serious, and when its supposed to be funny; and didn’t settle for the bland wide-angle shots found in most modern comedies.
In all, it caught me off guard, it made me laugh, it made me think, and there wasn’t a slow point in the entire film. I give it an 8/10.