Richard and CP24 anchor Nneka Elliot do a refresher on “Captain America: Civil War” and then talk about the weekend’s big releases, the seedy charm of “The Nice Guys” with Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling, the kid’s cartoon “The Angry Birds Movie,” and the Seth Rogen sequel “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising.”
Richard and “Canada AM” host Marci Ien talk about the weekend’s three big releases, the shady charm of “The Nice Guys” with Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling, the kid’s cartoon “The Angry Birds Movie,” and the Seth Rogen sequel “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” and the debauched “High-Rise” with Tom Hiddleston.
Way back when Rick Astley was one of the biggest stars in the world Shane Black wrote the classic L.A.P.D. buddy action comedy “Lethal Weapon.” A mix of chemistry and quips it set the template, for better and for worse, for a generation of cop buddy flicks. Black is back, breathing the same air, as co-writer and director of “The Nice Guys,” a hardboiled comedy that places Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling amid the mayhem.
Set in smoggy 1970s era Los Angeles, the story revolves around an odd couple brought together by circumstance. Jackson Healy (Crowe) is the muscle. He’s a brass-knuckled enforcer who makes his money through intimidation and violence. Holland Marsh (Gosling) is a drunken private investigator so desperate he specializes in doing missing persons cases for dementia patients who have forgotten their loved ones are dead, not missing. He’s so inept even his own thirteen-year-old daughter, Holly (Angourie Rice), refers to him as the world’s worst detective.
They are thrown together when March is hired to find Amelia (Margaret Qualley) but she hires Healy to get rid of the creep she thinks is a stalker. An uneasy alliance leads them head on into a wacky web of sleaze, corruption and catalytic converters. There’s a load more plot, but the point here isn’t the story as much as it is the journey it takes its characters on.
By rights “The Nice Guys” should be called “The Nice Guys and a Girl” because the teenage Angourie Rice is a key player. She’s an adolescent sidekick who, unlike Black’s child hanger-on in “Iron Man 3,” doesn’t have a precocious bone in her body. She’s funny, lends some heart to the cynicism on display and nearly steals the movie from the leads.
Nearly, but not completely. Crowe and Gosling bring seedy charm to their roles. They’re part “Freebie and the Bean,” part Abbott and Costello. Each hand in loose performances in a film that is unafraid to spend time listening to its leads bantering back and forth. Gosling excels with physical bits—trying to maintain his modesty in a bathroom stall scene is pure slapstick—while Crowe is more menacing but with solid comic timing.
Black’s way with a visual gag is also used to ample effect. An elevator scene that made me laugh in the trailers is played out with precision, escalating the laughs as the violence increases.
“The Nice Guys” is funny and even thrilling by times, but its greatest trick is to make you fall on side with these two not-always-so-nice-guys. They are neither particularly heroic nor gifted. Instead they are everymen looking for redemption and a fast paycheque. The ending sets things up for a sequel and that’s OK. I’d like to spend more time with these nice guys and girl.
The first “Magic Mike” was a sexy slithering slice of cinema that was about the dancers, the men who shook their booties for the pleasure of anyone with a few dollars to spare. It was about, as Mike said, “women, money and good times,” but it also told the story behind the glittery G-strings.
As the title suggests, the sequel, “Magic Mike XXL,” is bigger than the first film, but is disappointingly (depending on your point of view) about the dancing, rather than the dancers.
The new movie begins with Magic Mike (Channing Tatum) struggling to make a go of his new furniture business. Out of the male entertainment game for three years, he hasn’t quite left his old life behind. His girlfriend has run off, his one employee is owed big bucks and, in his private moments, he still spontaneously breaks into exotic dance routines. At loose ends, he decides to find solace in stripping, making one last run with his old outfit The Kings of Tampa. “It’s like when Justin came back to Backstreet,” says one of his co-peelers.
His mentor Dallas (Matthew McConaughey) is out of the picture, promoting shows over seas, but that doesn’t stop the well-toned but aging crew (Joe Manganiello, Kevin Nash, Matt Bomer and Adam Rodriguez) from doing one last show at a Myrtle Beach stripper convention and earning a “tsunami of dollar bills.”
“Magic Mike XXL” is a road trip through the undergarments… er… the underbelly of the male entertainment business. It skims the surface of the life it portrays, playing like a more revealing “Entourage” bromance. The spiritual journey of the first film has been replaced by a burlesque show with skin-deep depth. It’s a blockbuster with an indie film feel—any slicker and this would be little more than “Showgirls”—but none of the introspection that would make it special. A profound lack of drama or conflict make it feel like a slightly sexier “Road to Bali.”
Having said that, the naturalistic performances and chemistry between the cast is appealing and there is an undeniable appeal to the dirty dancing scenes, but, depending on your point of view, they either make the film worth watching or push the movie into R-rated make-you-blush territory. One thing that can’t be denied is that Channing Tatum could have had a career as a gymnast if the whole acting thing didn’t work out. All of his dance scenes look as though he performing inside a snow globe full of dollar bills thrown by excited onlookers.
As revealing as “Magic Mike XXL” is, it doesn’t give us enough of an inside look at the characters to be really interesting.
Here’s the answer to the first question most people have asked me about “Magic Mike”: Yes, Channing Tatum appears naked but not nekkid. In movie terms naked means posterior shots, nekkid is when he turns around. Channing is now too big a star to turn around, but rest assured, within a minute of appearing on screen he leaves little to the imagination.
Directed by Steven Soderbergh, “Magic Mike” is a loosely biographical account of Tatum’s time spent dancing for money in a Tampa strip club. He plays the title character, a thirty-year-old entrepreneur and stripper with one foot on the stage and one in the business world. When he recruits the hot-headed Adam (Alex Pettyfer) to dance at the club he gets drawn deeper into the dark side of the art of selling sex.
Let me first say “Magic Mike” is abtastic.
There haven’t been this many finely sculpted stomach muscles in one place since the Dr. Ho infomercials of the late 1990s. The genetic blessings of stars Tatum, Matthew McConaughey, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer and Adam Rodriguez as Chippendales stereotypes like cowboys, firemen and construction workers, mixed with the little details–how Mike smoothes out the sweaty, rumpled bills that get shoved down his G-string and then presses them under a large book–and moves that redefines dirty dancing, paint an effective portrait of the dancers who liberate the sexual passions of the giddy girls in their audiences.
That part the story gets right. When the movie is showing some skin it works, it’s when it gets to the stuff underneath–the heart and soul–that it falters. Up until the final half-hour it’s all about, as Mike says, “women, money and good times,” but the inevitable turn toward the dark side isn’t nearly as interesting as everything that came before it. “Boogie Nights” did it first and did it better.
By the time “Magic Mike” reaches its redemptive moment, with the classic rock anthem of rebirth “Feels Like the First Time,” blaring in the soundtrack, the movie feels like something we’ve seen before.
But for those who stopped reading after the words “Channing Tatum” and “naked” “Magic Mike” offers the pleasures of an endearingly charming performance from the titular character, an unhinged one from McConaughey and lots of buff, hairless men doing things that would make your grandmother blush.