Who needs the Cannes Film Festival when you have the Whistler Village 8? Last week, Money Monster opened just a single day after its Cannes premiere and this week The Nice Guys hits screens on Friday, after brass-knuckling its way across the film industry's most famous red carpet earlier this week.
Set in late 1970s Los Angeles, The Nice Guys is a gut-punching buddy comedy/detective yarn starring a perfectly haggard Russell Crowe as a hit-first-ask-questions-later thug-for-hire and Ryan Gosling as the more tender and cerebral private dick sucked along for the ride. While searching for a missing girl, the unlikely duo end up in the midst of a scheme involving the mob, crooked automakers and the now-legendary '70s L.A. porn industry. Think Boogie Nights meets Lethal Weapon with a lot more broken bones and slapstick ultraviolence.
The Nice Guys director Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) actually wrote Lethal Weapon back in 1987 and set the standard for the buddy-crime genre. With this one he blows that standard into the new era and in the process has crafted one of the most fun films of the year. Crowe and Gosling are totally committed and Kim Basinger (L.A. Confidential) shines as the missing girl's mother/head of the Justice Department. The Nice Guys is crude, rude fun and while it could be a tad long at 110 minutes, it's definitely worth the ride.
Also opening, Angry Birds is an animated film based on the once-popular smartphone game/merchandising empire but it at least has a plot and some decent voice talent. Aimed squarely at children (my six-year-old is amped), it's unlikely this one will woo more sophisticated audiences but if you get dragged to this one you might as well see it in 3-D. And get used to it, as Hollywood begins to suck the comic book teat dry, you can expect more video game and app-based feature films in the near future.
Also opening (because it wouldn't be a week at the movies without a sequel to a remake) Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising might just have a little something for everyone: it's the kind of sex, drugs and gross-out comedy you can expect from director Nicolas Stoller (Get Him to the Greek, Forgetting Sarah Marshall) but also a feminist-equality film (kinda) and, if you don't mind stretching a bit, a parable about the conflict between established economic "haves" and the growing population of socially motivated "have nots."
Chloe Grace Moretz (Kick Ass, Let Them In) stars as a party animal college kid unhappy with the unbalanced rules stating that sororities can't host parties in their own houses but fraternities can. So she starts Kappa Nu and lets the good times roll. Except they are rolling right beside Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne's young family, who are still raw from the first Neighbors, which happened long enough ago that Zac Efron, reprising his role from the original, is now also considered an old dude and here to help Seth and Rose get rid of those pesky sorority sisters and their "weaponized sexuality" once and for all.
It's good clean fun (dildo jokes, roofie jokes, drug jokes and wet, hot sorority girls) and economical at just 92 minutes, but there is a sense that the equality messages and afterschool sentiments are detracting from a truly epic (and more organically equal) female Animal House that could have been.
Speaking of animals, be careful in Whistler this May long weekend as the cit-iots will likely be out in full force. If you (wisely) choose to avoid the village after dark you can still catch all the street-fighting action with these Downloads of the Week: Fight Club is the gold standard of bareknuckle bruising but Ong Bak has more legit on-screen street brawling. Bloodsport introduced the world to Jean-Claude Van Dam (he still rules) and is also a true story about the first American to kick ass in Asia's illegal underground fight circuit. And, of course, Enter the Dragon is classic Bruce Lee doing what he does best — kicking ass!
Those should give you that May long Whistler village at 2 a.m. vibe from the comfort of your couch. Enjoy!