#17: The Nice Guys (2016)

Director: Shane Black
Comedy, Thriller
1h56min; R

⭐ ⭐ ⭐

The Nice Guys are anything but. Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling are seedy gentlemen in the seedier bubble of 1978 Hollywood out to find a missing teenager and solve the murder of famous pornstar Misty Mountains. The Nice Guys is fine- and predictable- and while the trailers focused on Crowe’s Jackson Healy and Gosling’s Holland March because they are the lead characters the real standouts are two minor characters, March’s daughter Holly (Angourie Rice) and a rather emo hitman called John Boy (American Horror Story: Hotel‘s Matt Bomer). Another star of the film is the era in which it is set- a glorious fever dream of disco, Earth, Wind & Fire and explosively colorful outfits that, although it probably wasn’t the best time, still cause me to crave life in the ’70s.

Between the two, Gosling’s March is the funnier. Best is the elevator scene at an airport hotel with Healy keeping his cool despite men dying horrible deaths a few feet away while March shivers like a shitting dog. Other than that there aren’t a lot of laughs between the two and the chemistry isn’t as powerful as you would expect from these two heavyweights. Gosling continues to push in a more comedic direction as in The Big Short but his timing in that film is miles beyond this. Healy is more interesting as an enforcer who beats creeps up for $ but he doesn’t come off as a killer until later on. The film fall off its own moral tightrope when the only thing keeping Healy from a second guy is because a little girl will be a witness.

Angourie Rice owns the film playing March’s daughter Holly.

Angourie Rice owns the film playing March’s daughter Holly, a pre-teen consistently giving her dad shit and tagging along to things no kid should see at her age. It’s hilarious when Holly sits down during a very adult party with a porn star to watch the actress’ new film. Bomer’s introduction as John Boy midway through the film is certified creepy but very badass. His first scene will make you lightly weary of friends with switchblades. The Nice Guys reunites Crowe with his L.A. Confidential co-star Kim Basinger. I can’t remember the last film I saww Basinger her in but it is refreshing to see her although she is phoning it in.

While the film is often funny it does take a much darker tone surrounding the murder of a teenage girl for a round 60 seconds and then just continues on as if nothing terrible had occurred. If it had started darker- the film opens with a murder but it is undercut by a bit of pornstar humor- maybe this wouldn’t irritate me so. There is also a somewhat out of left field emphasis on the importance of Detroit and while the Los Angeles Auto Show does factor, all of the talk about how “you can’t stop Detroit” falls like a crook from a hotel roof when we know how things went for that city. Shane Black remains in his buddy comedy wheelhouse and while this film isn’t quite as funny or as entertaining as his beloved Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang it is fun to watch him play in a different period with an entirely different moral standard. He nails that bit.


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