***½/**** Image A Sound A Extras C
starring Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Matt Bomer, Kim Basinger
written by Shane Black & Anthony Bagarozzi
directed by Shane Black
by Walter Chaw Shane Black's The Nice Guys is a delightful fusion of John D. MacDonald and Gregory McDonald; if it had a cover, it'd be painted by Robert McGinnis. It's California noir, no doubt, the love child of The Long Goodbye and Inherent Vice, but with the flip social commentary and occasional bouts of ultra-violence found in Carl Hiaasen's Florida noirs. Sufficed to say that Black, who's often spoken of his love for crime fiction, has distilled pulp here and with his directorial debut Kiss Kiss Bang Bang into breezy, post-modern concoctions. The Nice Guys is as smart as it is inconsequential, as brutal and exploitive as it is a commentary on brutality and exploitation. More than anything else, it's a very fine critical pastiche of the kinds of books you read in an afternoon because they're thrilling, socially irresponsible, and afire with misogyny, nihilism, and Byronic macho bullshit Romanticism. But cool, baby, and stylish.