Review: The Nice Guys


The last time director Shane Black stepped behind the camera was for Marvel Studio’s mega-blockbuster Iron Man 3. Instead of returning to the land of comic book characters, Black is back with a 70’s noir action comedy – The Nice Guys.

Set 1977 Los Angeles, Holland March (Ryan Gosling) is an inept private investigator – who is helpless without his daughter Holly (Angourie Rice) – but finds himself exploiting an elderly woman who swears she saw the  her niece, recently deceased adult actress Misty Mountains, days after her death. The only lead on the case is a missing girl named Amelia (Margaret Qualley). March’s search for Amelia causes him to cross paths with local enforcer Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) who tells him to drop the case.

After Healy is visited by two goons who are also searching for Amelia, Healy decides to team up with March to investigate the missing case together.

Nice Guys is a perfect mashup of an 80’s buddy cop film and a classic 70’s crime thriller. Shane Black and Anthony Bagarozzi’s script is crammed with jokes yet still maintains the sincerity of its crime thriller elements. It’s a perfectly balanced action comedy.

The story is drenched in the ridiculous drug and sex culture of the 70’s. People smoke, wear polyester, sport big mustaches, litter, drive without seatbelts, and use phones with cords attached to them.

A large amount of the film’s comedy comes courtesy of Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe. Who knew these two could be so good together?  They’re the perfect pairing that most people wouldn’t imagine putting together. Crowe is great as the “straight man” in this comedy duo. Gosling’s act as the “funny man” is more like the bumbling idiot/self destructive funny man. For a guy known for his pretty looks and quiet roles, Gosling effortlessly portrays Marsh not only the butt of most jokes, but as a careless detective and a loveable inattentive father. Watching Gosling and Crowe volley jokes back and forth like a tennis match will make people rethink how they cast for buddy comedies. They’re like chicken & waffles – you don’t know how good they are together until you try it.

Angourie Rice, who plays March’s daughter Holly, gets in on plenty of the comedy and action. Holly is a precocious child who monitors her bumbling father the way Penny did with Inspector Gadget. All she’s missing is a computer disguised as a book. Rice is a teenager that projects onscreen like a seasoned actress. She’s got the talent to be around for a while.

The Nice Guys is riddled with laugh out loud moments. One of the biggest laughs takes place when March is frantically searching for an ankle gun. That scene is a representation of the whole film – frantic, random, brilliant, and hilarious.

With fantastic leads and a supporting cast lead by Matt Bomer, Yaya Da Costa, the immortal Keith David, and Kim Basinger, The Nice Guys is poised to be the surprise hit of the summer.

Grade: A-