Going back to his beginnings (make that from before his beginnings), writer/director Shane Black reconfigures his own LETHAL WEAPON/’87 for more buddy/buddy comic chaos, set a decade earlier, and with Private Eyes instead of cops. The story’s a bit of a mess (catalytic converters, political protests & pornography, deferred daddy duties), which doesn’t matter too much; the structure & direction also a mess, which does. Pretty fun though, with Ryan Gosling’s slow-think dick grooving on period detail; and tough-guy partner-of-convenience Russell Crowe all fat & happy for the occasion. Nice supporting turns, too, from Angourie Rice as Gosling’s sharp teenage daughter; an eerily preserved Kim Bassinger as a wily Justice Department attorney; Beau Knapp’s dyed-in-the-face henchman; and Matt Bomer’s birth-marked assassin. If only the film weren’t quite so eager to launch a potential franchise (grosses came in a bit shy) or look like it was more fun to make than to watch. Still, enough mischief gets thru. Hard not to think the studio is missing a trick not going for the sequel.
SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Crowe hasn’t been this enjoyable in many a moon. There’s something about actors giving in to their inner slob that makes an audience happy.