Thursday, August 25, 2016

Movie Review: The Nice Guys (2016)

The Nice Guys movie poster
The Nice Guys (2016) - Directed by Shane Black; Written by Black and Anthony Bagarozzi; Starring Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Angourie Rice, Matt Bomer, Margaret Qualley, Keith David, Kim Basinger.

By Kenny Howell

They don't make them like they used to, unless they are Shane Black.

Black, who made great action comedies in the 1980s and 1990s like Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout and The Long Kiss Goodnight, has seen a resurgence in the past 10 or so years.

It started with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang in 2005, which paired Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer, then he made the best Iron Man film with Iron Man 3.

The Nice Guys returns to his roots, working with his buddy cop style, this time with Russell Crowe (Man of Steel) and Ryan Gosling (The Big Short). They are private investigators in 1970s Los Angeles with different styles. Crowe's Jackson Healy likes to bust heads to get answers, and Gosling's Holland March, well, he's just not that great of a PI. His daughter even says so.

The two come together after the possible suicide of porn star Misty Mountains. That search leads to a girl named Amelia, and from there it spirals out of control as it is obvious that it is much bigger than first expected.

Much like those early Black films, The Nice Guys lends a lot to early film noir, but of course with a lot more edge. It is a dark comedy, action and detective film perfectly rolled into one. It's been his calling card since the beginning, and he still keeps it fresh.

A bit surprisingly, most of the comedy comes from Gosling, and compounding that is how Crowe reacts to that. March is a bit of a bumbling detective, and Gosling shows the chops for the physical comedy. I guess it shouldn't be surprising because when has Ryan Gosling been bad at something, and he seems to have a good sense of humor about himself. Crowe expertly plays off of that, knowing when to jump in and land an insult on March, or to sit back and just like Gosling work.

The pairing, much like many other of Black's films, is what makes it truly work, and adds another great title to Black's terrific resume.

Rating: ***1/2

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