The Nice Guys, directed by Shane Black, is a comedy neo-noir film starring Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling as an unlikely pair set in the backdrop of 1970’s Los Angeles. Ryan Gosling is Holland March, a down-on-his-lucking private eye living with his daughter Holly, played by Angourie Rice, and is investigating the case of a murdered porn star. Russell Crowe is Jackson Healy, a hired enforcer who hurts people for a living. Fate binds them both when a young woman named Amelia disappears. Holland had a lead that Amelia was somehow involved with the murder, and Amelia had hired Jackson to keep him away from her. They decide to band together to get to the bottom of this, and go down a road of corruption and conspiracy. Oh, and porn.
This was one of my most anticipated movies of 2016. Two very charismatic actors, set in the most drug-fueled days of America, led by Shane Black, the guy who wrote the script for Lethal Weapon? Heck yeah.
And so I went in, watched the movie, came out, and am very glad to say that yeah, this movie was fun as hell.
Alright. First off, the tone. I don’t know if this was just this movie or if this is a Shane Black thing, but the humor in this movie was blunt crass-ness mixed with the Russell’s badassery and Ryan’s whimpers. I think I should say that when I mean crass, I don’t mean like “teen comedy shit/piss/jizz/sex joke” crass, I mean “fuck/shit/Jesus-fucking-Christ exclamation” crass. This was a legit buddy comedy movie, straight outta the 1980’s. And why wouldn’t it, considering Mr. Black’s record. I genuinely had a great time in the theater. The movie was really pretty funny. There were a lot of moments where I did laugh out loud and had a great time. Seeing Ryan Gosling being this low-life jackass was hilarious. It’s Inherent Vice meets Lethal Weapon, and I couldn’t be more happy for it.
The cast is excellent. Like I said, Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling play of each other wonderfully, with Russell being the straight man and Ryan being the idiotic asshole. There’s Angourgie Rice, who’s spectacular at being the little kid whom simultaneously is both childlike and mature. I swear, hearing a kid swear never gets old. I don’t think there’s a single bad performance at all.
However, as much as the characters behind the story are likable to watch and enjoyable to be with, it’s the plot that stops this move from being something really special. At first, it basks in the culture of the 1970’s, taking jokes and making fun of the time. The smog problem, the thriving porn industry, the disco, all of that, but as the film progress, that sorta takes a backseat to the “plot twist” of the movie. I won’t spoil it for you guys, but I think that it, while plot-wise made some sense, made the movie eat more than it could chew. It became too big for itself. Perhaps if they did one more re-write of the script it would flow better.
But hey, at least we got an in-joke about Detroit.
So yeah, overall, this film was great fun. I had a blast, and I heartily recommend it to everywhere who has a fleeting interest in it. It wasn’t this perfect film I thought it would be, but I was smiling when I left the cinema, so I think it did its job well enough.