The Nice Guys
A mismatched pair of private eyes investigate the apparent suicide of a fading porn star in 1970s Los Angeles.
Written by: Shane Black, Anthony Bagarozzi
Directed by: Shane Black
Starring: Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosline, Angourie Rice, Kim Bassinger, Matt Bomer
Shane Black is known for his buddy-cop style films.
From Lethal Weapon, to The Last Boy Scout, The Long Kiss Goodnight, and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, he knows his way around an action movie.
In The Nice Guys, we get a very unlikely pairing. Even more unlikely than Riggs and Murtaugh.
We get pudgy Russell Crowe and bumbling Ryan Gosling. And I say that will all due respect. Gone are Russell Crowe’s Gladiator years as he plays Jackson Healey, an oddly nuanced and principled New York Irish thug with a talent for “delivering messages” who has found himself in Los Angeles in 1997.
Ryan Gosling might still flutter the ladies’ hearts as Holland March, widowed father of Holly, trying desperately to keep his Investigation Agency open for business, but only just, as here he is a train-wreck of a private investigator, fluttering between almost Holmesian leaps of logic to Three Stooges levels of slapstick and pratfalls.
Sometimes with barely a moment of separation between the two.
I find myself legitimately of two minds about The Nice Guys. It’s got a cool, seventies vibe going on, which is awesome, but then the convoluted (and in many ways ridiculous) plot steps in and make me say, “No, that doesn’t work.”
And if you think it would be fun to see Crowe and his L.A. Confidential co-star Kim Bassinger reunited in the city of angels… you would be wrong. Bassinger’s performance as DoJ prosecutor Judith Kutner feels so wooden, so off-the-shelf, that it’s impossible to buy in. The mystery of her involvement in everything going on isn’t really a mystery, as it’s clear from the beginning which side she playing against whom.
On the upside, Crowe and Gosling both did seem to be enjoying themselves throughout. They put in earnest performances that, while they’re not going to win any Oscars, are fun enough you can enjoy watching them careen from one ridiculous lead to another, trying to solve the case.
Angourie Rice as March’s daughter, Holly, spent her time playing what would be, in a classic noir movie, the role of spunky secretary tasked with keeping her boss on task. And she’s really good at it, too.
Overall, if you want a fun way to spend 2 hours—yes, the movie actually runs right at about 2 hours—then there are certainly worse ways to go. The denouement is a little meh for my taste, but it does get the job done.
It is rated R, so leave the kids at home.