The Sloth was in LA when The Nice Guys was released. We’d heard little about it, so to see posters of The Crowe and The Gosling with bad ‘taches, plastered above donut shops and Better Call Saul style dodgy US lawyer businesses, well, it didn’t exactly look too promising. First impressions aside, what’s the first thing you think of when considering Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling (keep it clean re: Gosling, ladies)? We’re guessing ‘comedy’ isn’t it. And yet here they are, two of the moodiest actors in Hollywood signed up for that stalwart of genres The Buddy Cop Comedy. Hmm.
Crowe plays Jackson Healy, a grumpy, disillusioned PI who shambles around beating up unfaithful husbands and general n’er do wells to order (not a huge stretch, then…). Gosling plays Holland March, a puppyishly enthusiastic alcoholic PI who cheerily takes payment for jobs he knows he cannot fulfil. Such as the case of Misty Mountains (Murielle Telio), a generously proportioned adult film star who has recently died in a car crash. Except she may not be dead as an old lady is convinced she is alive and begs Holland to investigate. After an inauspicious first meeting where Jackson is assigned Holland as a target and efficiently beats him to a semi-pulp, our duo find themselves thrown together to investigate Misty’s case.
It doesn’t take a genius to see where this is going. Neatly opposite characters soon find they complement each other, with sufficient scope for witty banter. Add a ‘70’s backdrop, always a goldmine for silly outfits and bad hair and that’s several comedy boxes ticked. Luckily, The Nice Guys doesn’t leave it there, adding in a third, scene stealing character of Holland’s young daughter, Holly (Angourie Rice). Far smarter than her dad and Jackson combined, while the two of them bumble around Holly is generally several steps ahead, nonchalantly questioning suspects at a porn star party or patiently driving an intoxicated Holland home after another drinking bout. And lo and behold, both The Crowe and The Gosling prove that yes, they can do comedy, Gosling in particular turning in a goofball performance George Clooney would be proud off. Too clever by half, the pair of them…
We can only imagine the casting call for Noah. “All growly, bulldog-chewing-a-wasp actors to the floor please. Russell Crowe?” “Yeeh mate.” “Anthony Hopkins?” “Here, by the power of the valleys of Swansea.” “Ray Winstone?” “Go &%$£ yourself, you %$£&* @*&%”.
We know the story. God is cross with man and wants to destroy the world. A starting point which confused us because in Noah the world already looks like a post-apocalyptic wasteland – all volcanic dust, blackened tree stumps and deserted encampments patrolled by gangs of spear-wielding heathens. It’s hardly a hotbed of hedonism, rank with the stench of capitalist greed and Chicken Cottage.
Moot point aside, Noah strides about a lot, shouting things like “The time for mercy has passed!”, shaves off his hair to show he means business and sets about building his ark from a forest magically delivered overnight – easy when you know the right deities. Clearly, this is a big task but he’s aided by an army of Watchers (multiple limbed rock creatures, think of a cross between Iron Man and a lobster) who also help fight off the gangs of spear-wielding heathens, headed up by Tubal-cain (Ray Winstone). Luckily, the animals get the memo and start swarming aboard as the flood starts. A few more fights with the heathens and they’re off.
Is it any good? Well, it’s certainly bonkers. If you like 300, you’ll love the blood & guts, action hero Noah. Interestingly, for a religious story, ‘God’ is never mentioned. Instead we have ‘The Creator’, presumably because at Noah’s core is a wonderful, speeded up montage of the beginning of the world. For us, this was where its success lay. Away from the rather silly action (of which we’re ITCHING to see the Monty Python remake), it’s unquestionably well meaning, with a pointed, ecological agenda. At a time when studios will normally only greenlight Transformers 5,479, it deserves credit for taking a risk.
UK release 4 April
Let’s get one thing out the way first. Man of Steel has no Superman music. Harumph.
From the start, The Sloth was at movie sixes and sevens. Gladiator Russell Crowe spends his days flying round dying Planet Krypton on the back of giant dragonflies, Harry Potter stylee. Gladiator’s wife gives birth to baby Superman but, as Krypton is about to implode, they decide schooling options are rather limited so pack baby Superman into one of those nasty pods Alien popped out of and shoot him off to Earth. On arrival, Superman is found and adopted by Kevin Costner, because Robin Hood is basically a nice bloke. But then a giant cyclone tears through Smallville and kills Robin Hood as he’s trying to rescue the family dog, Toto, leaving Superman alone with his adoptive Earth mum.
Henry Cavill takes on the famous red pants. Presumably for his furrowed brow and cleft chinned resemblance to Christopher Reeve. Henry initially suffers an identity crisis. If he reveals his super-strength, the inherently suspicious Earthlings might hound him out of town. So he keeps schtum. Until one day evil ex-Krypton resident General Zod shows up with giant spaceship bulldozers, planning to turn Earth into Krypton Mark 2. Nothing else for it, Henry has to shake off his neurosis and save the day.
Frankly, we’re a bit puzzled as to why the ‘Superman origins’ story is being done again – to fill in the kids? But that’s what the internet is for, no? And we weren’t keen on the ending (too long! enough buildings / cars / helicopters exploding already!), but we rather enjoyed the rest. Amy Adams brings her best Feisty as Lois Lane and Henry’s acting may not win any awards, bless, but his filling of the suit will inspire a thousand Men’s Health subscriptions. If they’d only added in a ‘Daaah da da da daaah, da da da’, The Sloth would have been a perfectly happy bunny.
UK release 14 June