Directed by Shane Black
Starring Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Angourie Rice
Shane Black may be the best modern writer for buddy films. Lethal Weapon 2 is the gold standard for buddy cop films. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is another top-notch film from Black that is best known for bringing him and Robert Downey Jr. together. This collaboration eventually blossomed into Iron Man 3, a movie that’s a bit divisive for fans. Black returns to his comfort zone with The Nice Guys, a buddy story, but not cops exactly.
The film fallows the exploits of a professional leg breaker (Crowe) in the 1970’s as he takes gigs beating up stalkers of all ages and people that owe money. Eventually he gets a job beating down a bumbling detective (Gosling). A missing young girl causes their paths to cross again and they end up working together to find the missing girl. As you might expect the mystery is much larger than they could have anticipated.
This film makes great use of its budget trying to develop the world of the 70’s, even showing a broken down version of the Hollywood sign from the 70’s. There are two instances where stock footage from the 70’s is cut into the film. The stock footage is beat to hell and it gives credibility to the world and the character. After all many viewers of the film have only experienced the era through this kind of beat up film footage. Other than that the clothes and the cars all work, sometimes the dialogue feels just a little modern but it mostly works too.
There are really three failures in this film: Kim Bassinger, overly precocious kids, and an obvious conspiracy. These failures seem pretty major right? The truth is they all fall out of focus behind the chemistry, comradery, and hilarity that is Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling. The properly chunky and rumpled Crowe mostly plays the straight man to Gosling’s ridiculousness and it works flawlessly. Crowe’s shock at just how dimwitted Gosling can be is priceless. Sure Angourie Rice’s character (Gosling’s daughter) is sometimes a little too precocious that’s not the fault of the obviously talented actress. When her character works though she is funny and heartwarming. Kim Bassinger can be a hit or miss actress. In this film she’s a miss but she doesn’t have a lot of screen time. She does get one surprising moment of funny though.
The Nice Guys is an action packed funny fest that features two actors that seem like they’ve been best of friends for years, the chemistry is that palpable. Don’t go for the mystery; go see this for the comedy, the action, and the characters. There’s potential for more movies featuring these characters and I sincerely hope it happens.