It’s day 11 of the James Proclaims Advent Calendar Of Christmas(ish) films and it’s time to be done, once and for all, with Shane Black.
Don’t get me wrong, the man is pretty much peerless when it comes to making films that are are ‘not-really-Christmas-films-but-a-bit-Christmassy-nonetheless’.
But if he’s going to include a Christmas element in all of his films then the novelty is going wear off eventually.
To be fair, not every film he’s ever had a writing or directing credit for has featured in this advent calendar of Christmasishness but he has managed to get six (including today’s effort) on the list, which is a whopping 25% of the total.
Which is a lot.
Nonetheless, it has to be acknowledged that, with the possible exception of The Last Boy Scout (which might be an awful film but one I’m still relatively fond of) they have all been pretty good.
And today’s entry into the festive filmography is also a goodun’
For it is 2016’s The Nice Guys.
Starring Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling, it is familiar Shane Black territory, insofar as an unlikely duo team up to solve crime and take on the bad guys. In this case it’s muscle-for-hire Jackson Healy (Crowe) and alcoholic PI Holland March (Gosling). Throw in March’s teenage daughter, Holly (who sounds like she should be an irritating character but is surprisingly not) and you have an improbable team of sleuths working to solve a conspiracy, which, boringly, seems to be related to the automobile industry. The ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ of the subterfuge are really not important though, it’s the set pieces that make the film, and it’s full of action and comedy in equal measure.
You won’t find too much originality here, but the cast all put in strong performances, and the 1977 setting works well to set the movie apart from similar fare.
Ultimately it’s a familiar ride, but no less fun for that fact.
Score For Christmasishness
Although Shane Black enjoys a Christmas setting, this is one of his least Christmassy efforts. Basically, it isn’t a Christmas film, but in the final scene, once all the action has taken place, all the loose ends are finally tied up and we’re fundamentally just ‘saying goodbye’ to the characters, our heroes meet up in a bar, and it’s clear from the decorations all around them, that it is, at this point in their timeline, nearly Christmas.
Which is a fact that adds nothing to the film whatsoever.