Writers: Shane Black; Anthony Bagarozzi
Cast: Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Angourie Rice, Matt Bomer, Margaret Qualley, Yaya Dalosta, Keith David, Lois Smith; Kim Basinger.
Harking back to the funky-soul disco era of the 1970s, The Nice Guys is a private detective, who-done-it comedy, with a bit of action on the side.
The scene is set when Misty Mountains (yes, her name referring to her boobs) comes to a dramatic end – assets revealed in life but covered in death, because hey, she’s human and this is a classy film.
Now, Amelia Kuttner (Margaret Qualley) is being followed. She hires Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe), muscle who is paid to deter those, well, who need deterring. His line of enquiry leading to Holland March (Ryan Gosling), a private detective also on the case.
Delving into the world of ’70s pornography, dirty deeds are uncovered circling closer and closer to those targeting Amelia.
A classic storyline, yet, it’s the characters Healy, March and March’s daughter, Holly (Angourie Rice) who are the focus of the film. And the success of the film comes from the perfect casting of Gosling alongside Crowe.
It’s a pleasure to see Gosling playing a light-hearted character after all his seriousness in the past (Half Nelson (2006), The Ides of March (2011), The Place Beyond the Pines (2012) and more recently, The Big Short (2015)). Gosling’s character, March, is a funny bastard. Either he’s a natural comic or director Shane Black deserves a tremendous amount of credit as March was the highlight of the film for me.
Russell playing, Healy: as always the steadfast meat-head with a heart of gold.
The two characters had a great chemistry, like the small dog yapping at the big. I wondered if there was a genuine annoyance from Russell Crowe regarding Gosling. But with a clever script, there were many moments for laughter.
Add the background scenery of horses get-up as unicorns, protesters playing dead in gas masks and some well-placed action (I was about to get bored near the end until the action kicked in); you’ve got an entertaining film. I’m still grinning about March falling, yet again, and somehow surviving.
But, honestly, there wasn’t a lot of depth here.
There were definite moments of wit and cleverness but the story barely held together at the end. The action got ramped up so I forgave the fading narrative. It depends on what mood you’re in.
If you’re looking for a, who-done-it with wit and action, this is a great film.