“The Nice Guys” is directed by Shane Black starring Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Angourie Rice, Matt Bomer, Kim Basinger, and Keith David. The film is set in the late 1970’s and tells the story of two mismatched private eyes who are investigating the disappearance of a porn star. Following in true Shane Black fare, “The Nice Guys” delivers hilarious amounts of action and old fashioned comedy, making us realize why 80’s and 90’s action movies were so incredible. And in the slew of super hero films, “The Nice Guys” not only settles for a great time, but it turns out to be one of the best films this year.
When I heard about “The Nice Guys” at the beginning of the summer season this year, I was not only excited to see but I was really looking forward to it. But among other things, I just never got around to seeing it. The film, which played in very few theaters didn’t have the chance to reach the audience that it was intended for, myself included. But now that it’s on demand, I jumped at the chance to watch it. “The Nice Guys” is one of my favorite films this year. It’s expertly acted, directed and scored. From the 70’s rock/disco porn-styled music to the wild costumes and the amazing quirky comedy, “The Nice Guys” is so much fun and shows that the buddy cop genre is still more prominent than ever.
Let’s start with the two leads. Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling as the two PI’s are incredibly fun here. They have amazing chemistry and every time these two actors are working together they click. Every scene is just gold and they make for a lot of hilarious gags and chuckles. Russell Crowe plays his typical tough guy hot tempered role and Ryan Gosling plays a weasely bumbling buffoon which is a different character than I’ve ever seen him play. Kim Basinger was a nice reminder of the movie star that she used to be, looking hotter than ever as well as playing that neo-noir type of femme fatale. Keith David was great playing a hitman named “Older Guy,” but the true standout was Gosling’s character’s daughter Holly played by newcomer Angourie Rice. Rice was the absolute best thing about “The Nice Guys” and she clearly was more mature than Gosling’s character. Holly interjects herself being a part of the investigation and she plays a prominent role in catching the bad guys which was really fun and different to see.
The thing that I loved about “The Nice Guys” was that it had a very “L.A. Confidential” type vibe. It’s a neo-noir, taking place in Los Angeles which exposes the underbelly of the city. With mobsters and cabals, pornstars and drug kingpins. The movie is rooted in conspiracy, reminiscent of “The French Connection” and “Chinatown.” It is superbly crafted in history, maintaining that 70’s feel with the costumes, music and setting. If you like gangster films, or noir-type stories then “The Nice Guys” is right up your alley. The buddy cop movie has recently been an absolute disgrace but “The Nice Guys” makes up for that long bland streak. Shane Black, known for films like”Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,” and the “Lethal Weapon” franchise truly delivers another excellent original murder mystery tale with that old Hollywood feel. It’s Black’s knack for screenwriting that really makes “The Nice Guys” such a superb piece of finely crafted film. The dialogue is witty and smartly written, even if the story kind of becomes a little too silly. Sure the film isn’t as tight or as neat as “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” but it still makes for amazing entertainment.
As much as I loved “Nice Guys,” it wasn’t a perfect movie. I think the biggest issue that I had with the film came down to the plot. In the beginning of the film, it was very easy to follow. The two PI’s are investigating the death and disappearance of a pornstar. But as the film goes on and on, the plot becomes very convoluted, silly and near the end of the third act, I was a little confused as to what was going on. I couldn’t piece together the mystery that the characters were unfolding. I think the messy plot comes from the fact that the screenplay became a little too silly and unfocused. What mainly works is the relationship between Crowe and Gosling and when we don’t have that the film doesn’t feel as kinetic. But I’m just nitpicking here. These are just little gripes that I had a hard time with when watching “The Nice Guys.”
Folks in the end, “The Nice Guys” is an incredible film, with an incredible cast and incredible performances. The 1970’s time period, the style and the music made this film just a pure joy to watch. It was hilarious, action packed and had the great chemistry of the two leads. Sure the plot was a little silly and unfocused but the fact remains that this is a movie clearly not meant for 2016. This film feels like an 80’s or 90’s film, without gigantic special effects and heroes in masks. “The Nice Guys” was one of the best movies that I’ve seen this year and you should definitely give it a shot. If not for the story, give Crowe and Gosling your time, because over an hour and fifty minutes, they will entertain the hell out of you.