THE NICE GUYS

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - WEEK IN MOVIES -

Direc­tor: Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Iron Man 3) Star­ring: Ryan Gosling, Rus­sell Crowe, An­gourie Rice, Kim Basinger, Yaya DaCosta Ver­dict: They don’t al­ways fin­ish last, but they go mighty close

A LURID, late-1970s Los Angeles choked down with smog and charged up with smut is the at­mo­spheric back­drop for this highly en­joy­able crime ca­per. How­ever, it is what is hap­pen­ing in the fore­ground that re­ally el­e­vates The Nice Guys to a cut above the rest.

Here you find one of the most un­likely and most ef­fec­tive comic pair­ings in years. The names of Ryan Gosling and Rus­sell Crowe are nor­mally aligned with se­ri­ous, soul­sap­ping fare. So to see them get­ting great laughs with such good-na­tured gusto takes a lit­tle get­ting used to.

If you do choose to go with their foolin’-about flow, be­lieve me, you are in for some­thing spe­cial here. The movie spins a knotty, nutty yarn about a con­spir­acy in­volv­ing the porn in­dus­try, cor­rupt car man­u­fac­tur­ers and un­just of­fi­cers of the law.

Though the story func­tions strongly on the dra­matic front, much amuse­ment stems from how the two bro­ken pro­tag­o­nists of The Nice Guys are rarely aware of the big fix hap­pen­ing all around them.

Hol­land March (Gosling) is a pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tor with great in­stinct for his craft, but lit­tle in the way of in­tel­lect.

Jack­son Healy (Crowe) is a bar­gain­base­ment stan­dover man, a dumpy des­per­ado who’ll beat any­one up at a price that can’t be beaten.

To­gether, these two are des­tined to bicker, bumble and blam-blam-blam their way to­wards pos­si­bly solv­ing a mys­tery that should be way out of their league.

If they do stand a chance of star­ing down the master­mind be­hind this sin­is­ter shake­down, it will prob­a­bly be due to the real brains of their own out­fit: March’s whip-smart teenage daugh­ter Holly (An­gourie Rice).

While The Nice Guys is def­i­nitely a pop­corn movie front-loaded with crack­ing comic in­ter­play and sur­real set-piece ac­tion se­quences, the pack­age as a whole packs a pulpy punch that can­not be de­nied.

The sub­tly pre­cise stylings of Gosling (an in­sanely gifted phys­i­cal comic) and Crowe (as bent a straight man as you’ll ever see) are the per­fect match for an im­pos­si­bly busy screen­play that keeps many nar­ra­tive plates spin­ning all at once.

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