Tag Archives: buddy comedies

Class Clowns

Central Intelligence

by Rachel Willis

What harm could come from accepting a Facebook friend request from a person you don’t recognize? For Calvin Joyner, that answer is a lot.

Calvin, portrayed by the talented Kevin Hart, is a forensic accountant who has recently been passed up for a promotion and isn’t eager to attend his twenty year high school reunion with his high school sweetheart, now wife, Maggie (Danielle Nicolet). The reunion is just a reminder for Calvin that his life has not turned out the way he thought it would when he was voted Most Likely to Succeed his senior year of high school.

Into Calvin’s mundane existence comes Bob Stone (Dwayne Johnson). Bob is a former classmate of Calvin’s who finds him on Facebook and quickly inserts himself into Calvin’s life. When Calvin meets Bob for a drink to reconnect, he is stunned to see Bob has transformed himself from an overweight, bullied loser into a well-muscled, attractive man who likes guns and unicorns.

Hart and Johnson have a natural chemistry and they play well off each other, with Hart frequently playing the straight man to Johnson’s nerdy, overly eager Bob. Hart plays Calvin as a good-natured guy who recognizes that Bob needs a friend, even if he is frequently confused by Bob’s geeky references to Sixteen Candles and 90’s pop culture.

It’s because of his good nature that Calvin finds out exactly when can happen when you reconnect with an old classmate. Bob asks Calvin for a favor, and that favor leads Calvin into a world of espionage, shootouts with CIA agents, and an adventure he didn’t expect or want.

The supporting cast, particularly Amy Ryan and Danielle Nicolet, are able to play off the odd couple duo of Hart and Johnson with skill. Ryan Hansen provides a number of jokes as Calvin’s inappropriately raunchy co-worker. The only actor who seems slightly out of his league is Aaron Paul. Though Paul is a skilled actor, he can’t quite seem to hold his own against Hart or Johnson.

Even with a runtime of almost two hours, the film never drags and the comedy is strong throughout. Though the ending feels contrived and the film follows a fairly standard formula, on the whole, it works as a mismatched, buddy comedy.

The strength that Johnson and Hart bring to the screen elevates the film to a level above your standard, forgettable comedy fare.




Nice Nice Baby

The Nice Guys

by Hope Madden

Tell me you’ve seen any of the countless trailers for Shane Black’s new action comedy The Nice Guys. Funny! I haven’t had such high expectations for a new film yet this year.

Ever since Black announced his presence with authority, penning ‘87’s iconic buddy cop action flick Lethal Weapon, he’s been one to watch. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, his directorial debut, suggested he might even be keeping his best stuff for himself. But after a while, his tics and tendencies grow tiresome.

The Long Kiss Goodnight, anyone?

And though his newest effort absolutely revisits most of the filmmaker’s by-now obvious predilections, his craftsmanship and casting have never been better.

Hey girl, guess what – Ryan Gosling is a hoot! No, no, I didn’t say he’s hot (as that goes without saying). He’s a hoot. And if you found his scene-stealing performance in last year’s gem The Big Short a refreshing and joyous change of pace for the award-bedecked actor, you will surely enjoy this masterpiece of comic timing and physicality.

Gosling plays Holland March, an alcoholic PI with questionable parenting skills who reluctantly teams up with muscle-for-hire Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe). What begins as a low-rent missing persons case snowballs into an enormous conspiracy involving porn, the government, and the all-powerful auto industry. (It is 1977, after all.)

Aah, 1977 – when everybody smoked, ogled women, and found alcoholism a laugh riot. Black puts this time machine quality to excellent use in a film that would have felt stale and rote during his Eighties heyday, but today it serves as an endlessly entertaining riff on all that was so wrong and so right about the Seventies.

A brightly lit (if smog-choked) Southern California noir-turned-buddy-action comedy, The Nice Guys does a surprisingly good job at finding its tone. All the lurid, twisty plot fodder could easily weigh the film down in gritty drama, but Shane’s heart is in the budding, unsanitized bromance.

Gosling’s impeccable hilarity is custom-made for Black’s machine gun fire dialog, but Crowe also manages to get comfortable in the script, allowing both the conversation and action to breathe and take shape. The pair’s chemistry is a joy to watch, and is aided immeasurably by Angourie Rice’s flinty, intelligent turn as March’s disappointed daughter, Holly.

Ultimately, the twists and surprises don’t amount to much. The Nice Guys is a shiny Shane Black toy that begs to be played with now, even if it’s forgotten later. Kind of like the Seventies.