THE NICE GUYS – review


The Nice Guys is going to be a welcome relief as a movie that’s both just straight up good and funny. Lacking any superhero drama and apocalyptic battles, this movie is a classic buddy/action comedy like Ride Along, with two guys (and a teenage girl) in over their heads.

This movie features the unlikely pairing of a cowardly Ryan Gosling and a thug in Russell Crowe as a pair of men for hire in 1970s Los Angeles. Gosling plays Holland March, a washed up cop who’s become what can only be described as the worst private investigator ever. He’s been hired to track down a missing young woman, Amelia (Margaret Qualley), whose disappearance relates to the opening scene death of a porn star named Misty Mountains.  It’s supposed to be a joke, I guess, but the soon to be corpse’s bloodied bare breasts receive more close-ups than the actress, Murielle Telio, has lines.  Amelia is under the protection of hired private enforcer Jackson Healy (Crowe), who ends up using force to get Holland to back off. imgres-20

We quickly learn that both Healy and March are down on their luck, and March is a big mess, having lost his home in a fire and trying to keep his headstrong daughter Holly (Angourie Rice) out of trouble.

But when a pair of goons attempt to kill Healy in an effort to find Amelia’s location, Crowe is forced to form a partnership with Holland to locate Amelia before the goons do. Healy is a no-nonsense man who wants to get to the bottom of the problem; Gosling wants to earn a paycheck, get some booze, and get on with his life. Together, the two get involved in a mystery that gets deeper and deeper involving dead porn stars, the Justice Department (The head played by Kim Basinger who is Amelia’s mother as well), and the automotive industry.  Basinger’s character is investigating collusion among Detroit’s automakers to kill the catalytic converter emissions control device.  Everything ties together, though plotting, relying on assassins and one too many shoot-outs.

The pairing of Crowe and Gosling go great together, with Crowe’s Healy being the more practical muscle of the two (happy to beat someone up and break an arm or two or three).  Gosling’s March, meanwhile, drinks way too much, stumbles and falls way too much and generally has the role filled with physical comedy.imgres-21

At one point in the movie, the half-drunk Ryan Gosling falls off a Hollywood Hills balcony, rolls down the hill and comes to rest inches away from one of the film’s many corpses.  Gosling’s reaction? Bust out with non-verbal gasping, tears and a comic inability to form actual words.  In another particularly crazy scene Gosling cowers atop a toilet in a men’s bathroom, his pants down, as Crowe hovers outside.images-13

If the movie has any weakness, it’s that it goes out of its way to remind you that it’s set when it is.  References to 1977 dominate with air pollution protests, gasoline shortages, an appearance by Earth, Wind, and Fire (It’s not really them, but it sure does look like them).  It just really wasn’t necessary for the need to remind us of how well the producers recreated the era.

Still, the period piece weakness is the only weakness, and it’s a forgivable one since the producers did an excellent job of recreating the era (and indeed, part of the plot is specific to the late 70s).  An overall fun movie, The Nice Guys is a hilarious film worth the ticket price this summer.


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