The latest Shane Black (The Predator) film, The Nice Guys, looks to be another gritty buddy action comedy in the vein of his critical darling Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. The retro-whodunit revolves around down-on-his-luck detective Holland March (Ryan Gosling) and shady enforcer Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe). The mismatched pair must work together to solve a missing person case, which unravels a major conspiracy set in late-70s Los Angeles.

In the film, Gosling and Crowe’s characters frequently butt heads with one another. To put a spin on “life imitating art,” the two stars filmed a series of webisodes detailing their “real life” squabbles on set.

Warner Bros.’ amusing webisodes detail the travails of Gosling and Crowe as they try to make amends in couples counseling (via Coming Soon). Each video sets up the webisodes with a celebrity news-styled clip about the pair’s ongoing squabbles. The actual videos consist of the therapy session, as the actors do their best to annoy each other. Gosling plays himself as smarmy and pretentious, often overriding the therapist’s attempts at guiding the session. And Crowe caricatures himself as a generally uncooperative and belligerent patient. You can watch the webisode trailer above the article and the first two episodes below.

Known for his violent buddy pics, Black’s first major hit was the classic squabbling-cop pic Lethal Weapon. His ability to construct narratives around two mismatched ideologies also shone through in his recent Marvel entry, Iron Man 3. The Nice Guys red band trailer, which features the pair’s first meeting, also does a fine job of establishing their quarrelsome rapport.

However, trailers only have a limited time to explore character dynamics, since exposing moviegoers to the plot and action set pieces is just as vital. Warner’s webisodes are a clever way to delve into the character’s chemistry while paralleling their relationship in the film. Assuming Gosling and Crowe are channeling their characters as much as themselves, fans of buddy cop-style action romps are in for a good time. Plus, if the videos go viral, Warner Bros. also has a great way to keep potential viewers tuned in to the false drama before the film’s release.

And Warner Bros. isn’t alone in exploring viral marketing. Videos have been one of cinema’s favorite go-to marketing tools since YouTube’s popularity explosion in the last decade. Hollywood has been pumping out quirky faux-documentaries and backstory clips at a record pace. In this case, the studio is definitely hoping audiences will follow Crowe and Gosling’s banter into the theater.

The Nice Guys opens in U.S. theaters on May 20, 2016.

Source: Warner Bros. (via Coming Soon)

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