THE NICE GUYS
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.