Possible spoilers ahead!
I’ve been wanting to watch “The Nice Guys” for a while now, but other stuff kept coming up. But since TNU’s Laneit and Jim came down to visit me for a few days, and since none of us had seen the movie, this seemed like the perfect time to watch it.
In case you didn’t see the movie when it was in theatres, you should know that “The Nice Guys” takes place Los Angeles around 1977. The movie follows a not-so-lucky private investigator and single father named Holland March (Ryan Gosling) who is hired by the elderly Mrs. Glenn (Lois Smith) to find her niece, one Misty Mountains (Muriello Tello), a famous porn star whom Mrs. Glenn claims to have seen alive days after her much publicized (apparent) suicide.
Holland is quite skeptical of the whole thing but needs whatever work he can find, so agrees to take the job and begins an investigation that leads him to a young woman named Amelia (Margaret Qualley). This however, puts Holland in the crosshairs of Jackson Healey (Russell Crowe), the grizzled enforcer-for-hire whom Amelia recruits to pressure Holland into dropping his investigation.
The same day Healey beats the crap out of Holand, Amelia mysteriously vanishes and Jackson has a dangerous “close encounter” with a pair of hired goons that makes him believe there’s more going on with this case than meets the eye. With little information to go on, Jackson hires Holland to track down Amelia and find out if there really is a larger conspiracy at work. Also along for the ride is Holland’s young (but wise) daughter Holly (Angourie Rice).
“The Nice Guys” is the latest movie from Shane Black, the screenwriter of such 1980s and ’90s hits “Lethal Weapon” and “The Last Boy Scout.” I know him best as the guy who destroyed the Iron Man franchise with “Iron Man 3.” Not that I’m holding a grudge or anything.
“The Nice Guys” was co-written by Black and his writing partner Anthony Bagarozzi, and they did a good job. “The Nice Guys” features a nice mix of mystery, drama, and humor. The movie’s over-arching storyline is solid in its construction and execution. The writters took the time to make sure they finished every plotline, and delivered on every comedic setup that’s introduced over the course of the film.
But what really sold the movie was the onscreen chemistry between Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling as the not so dynamic duo. The pair play quite well off one another through all the downtight strange scenarios they are forced to face, whether they are serious, violent or comedic in nature.
Russell Crowe as the burly and cynical Jackson Healy, is an effective straight-man opposite Gosling as Holland March. The only thing that I wish Crowe had worked on is his American accent which comes and goes.
Regardless, Russell Crow is a good match for the entertaining and bumbling sometimes drunk private investigator Holland. Gosling finally gets character which allows the actor to play a comedic role that’s a refreshing change of pace from his other work. Gosling’s performance is constantly funny, but it never goes slapstick.
The biggest surprise in this movie was Angourie Rice (“Walking with Dinosaurs 3D”) as Holly, Holland’s daughter. The young actress helps to give “The Nice Guys” some needed emotion through the friendship that she forms with Jackson. In many ways, Holly is the true hero of “The Nice Guys,” as she not only serves as Jackson’s conscience, but also helps to keep her dad sane in both his personal life and his career, even if it means putting herself in danger.
Crowe, Gosling, and Rice are the main stars of the movie, but the cast is nicely rounded out by character actors playing small roles. This includes Margaret Qualley as the missing girl, Amelia; Kim Basinger as Amelia’s mother, Judith Kuttner; Keith David and Beau Knapp as the goons “Old Guy” and “Blueface”; and Matt Bomer as a deadly hit-man who is referred to by others as “John Boy”. But not the one from “The Waltons.”
In the end, “The Nice Guys” is an entertaining buddy-detective adventure that features excellent work from the cast, and a setting that’s a character of its own. In a year filled with sequels and disapointments, “The Nice Guys” is a breath of fresh air.
“The Nice Guys” final score: 8.5