The Nice Guys, 2016.
Directed by Shane Black.
Starring Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Angourie Rice, Matt Bomer, Kim Basinger and Margaret Qualley.
A mismatched pair of private eyes investigate the apparent suicide of a fading porn star in 1970s Los Angeles.
After tackling Marvel with Iron Man 3, Shane Black has returned to his routes with a hilarious buddy cop comedy to add to Lethal Weapon and Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. This time around we’re in 1977 following the mismatched relationship of Holland March (Gosling) a down on his luck PI with questionable morals and a drinking problem and Jackson Healy (Crowe) a hired muscle man who uses his fists rather than talking about problems. After a violent and funny introduction, the two “detectives” head off on a twisted tale of corruption, porn, murder and mayhem in LA that is hilarious from start to finish.
Black has always known how to write a good buddy cop film. Lethal Weapon was hilarious and dark with great chemistry between the leads and Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang was a noir masterpiece. Collaborating with Anthony Bagarozzi, Black lets loose with the convoluted plot but combines it with exceptional performances, hilarious sequences, extreme violence and 1970s cheese. Whilst the plot does go a bit far in places, both leads throw themselves into the absurdity of the film with gusto.
The acting in this film is brilliant. Whilst there have been elements of comedy in Gosling’s previous performances, as Holland March he is perfect. March is a drinker, he’s clumsy, bad in a crisis, cracks under pressure and Gosling manages to make him endearing. Physical comedy is a big part of the film and watching Gosling throughout it reminded me of watching The Wolf of Wall Street and seeing Leonardo DiCaprio battling to get down the stairs into his car. Gosling excels at pratfalls and seems to be having a great time throughout. I’ve personally never been a huge fan of Russell Crowe’s work, however, as Jackson Healy, his gruff and stand-offish nature works really well and he also seems to be enjoying taking the piss out of everything around him.
Newcomer Angourie Rice as March’s daughter Holly is a talent to watch for the future. She provides a level of depth and intelligence to her character that isn’t seen often in actresses so young. She sparks well with both leads and her ability to strive whilst there are explosions going off and guns pointed in her face doesn’t seem forced.
Whilst The Nice Guys is a brilliant film there are a few issues. The plot does veer into the absurd at times and both Matt Bomer and Kim Basinger get little to do with their characters. Bomer in particular as John Boy is barely on screen and it would have been interesting to see more of his back story. However, he does throw a 13-year-old girl through a glass window so maybe Black felt that summed him up pretty well?
The Nice Guys is one of the finest comedies of the year so far. It’s not bringing any new ideas to the table but it’s well paced, packed full of witty jokes and slapstick that will keep you entertained.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Helen Murdoch is a freelance writer – Follow me on Twitter