By Adam Hlava
There was a point somewhere in Drive, the 2011 film about a stuntman moonlighting as a getaway driver, where its star Ryan Gosling appeared to be in heavy contemplation; his face as deadpan as can humanly possible. The bad guy was spouting some kind of threat at him, and he just sat there with a dopey look on his face for the entire scene. I call that face “The Gosling,” and it was this point in Drive I began to think that this man is not a good actor. A few years later he would co star in a terrible movie called Gangster Squad and, same thing, “The Gosling” would show up during every scene he was in. And the biggest embarrassment to his career would come in the form of Only God Forgives, his second collaboration with Drive director NIcolas Winding Refn. Gosling has almost no lines of dialogue in this atrocity. It's really a mess of a film that doesn't warrant much discussion, but let's just say "The Gosling" is in full force. His on-screen limitations didn’t matter though, the guy who’s acting chops consisted of impersonating Droopy the Dog was the biggest movie star on the planet. I just didn’t get it.
Then something happened in his career when he traded “The Gosling” for comedy. As a point I made on our first Podcast, never in my entire life (slight exaggeration) have I done a complete 180 with a person like I have with Ryan Gosling. It turns out that Gosling is one of my favorite actors after all .. just in comedies. He said the word “schwantz” in Crazy Stupid Love, which induced a lot of laughter in my theater. And he was by far the most entertaining part of my favorite movie of 2015 The Big Short. Here his smarmy, quick-witted investor was perfectly suited for Gosling’s comedic persona (my only real knock on that film was not giving him more screen time.) The guy is hilarious. Case in point: check out the clip below.
And it appears he is coming to terms with his skills in comedy, as we’re looking at not one, but two, Gosling-infused comedies this year. I’m particularly exciting for The Nice Guys coming out later this year, co-starring Comedy legend Russell Crowe. Based solely on the trailers, this looks to be his first completely farcical comedy, and from what we’ve seen he looks to be in top form, and this could turn out to be his best work yet. Comedy, Ryan! Yes! And then around Christmas we'll see Gosling team up with his Crazy Stupid Love co-star Emma Stone for La La Land, directed by Whiplash helmer Damien Chazelle. Not much is known about this film yet, but with that threesome I'm pretty optimistic.
Ryan Gosling became a huge success in Hollywood but for what I argue were the wrong types of roles for him. He’s not a very good dramatic actor, but he does have an incredibly acute sense of comedic timing. So please, Ryan Gosling, be great again and stick to comedy.