The Nice Guys Movie Review
Relying on the dynamic chemistry of two lead actors, buddy movies have been a Hollywood staple for years. Joining the long list of famous duos before them, Ryan Gosling and Russell Crow play Holland March and Jackson Healy, contrasting private eyes who team up to investigate the death of famous porn star, Misty Mountains, in Los Angeles during the 1970’s. THE NICE GUYS is an R-rated comedy/crime buddy movie that has one special distinction within its genre in the form of the dark and humorous sensibility from director and writer Shane Black.
This is the third film from Shane Black, who previously directed KISS KISS BANG BANG and IRON MAN 3. He also wrote the screenplays to LETHAL WEAPON, THE MONSTER SQUAD, THE LAST BOY SCOUT, and THE LONG KISS GOODNIGHT. It’s fair to say he has a history of skillfully crafting buddy, comedy, and action films. THE NICE GUYS may not be his best work but it fits nicely as a unique addition to the over-crowded, people-pleasing genre.
Casting the right duo team might be the most important part when making a buddy movie. As long as the writing and directing are at least halfway decent then the actors can hopefully elevate the material. Most recently we’ve had successful pairings from: Ice Cube and Kevin Hart in RIDE ALONG 1&2, Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock in THE HEAT, and Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg in 2 GUNS. In the long run we’ve had 48 HOURS, BEVERLY HILLS COP, RUSH HOUR, BAD BOYS, THE OTHER GUYS and many, many others. Most of these pairings share a specific similarity – one of the actors is a comedian. Neither Ryan Gosling nor Russell Crowe are known for the comedic chops but are aptly up for the task. Gosling particularly shines as the goofy, alcoholic to Crowe’s secretly soft-hearted brute.
March and Healy may never have the same ring as Riggs and Murtaugh but they hold a similar tone to the 90’s buddy cop movie despite being set in the 70’s. Dressing the part and carrying the appropriate swag of the era, Gosling and Crowe aren’t the power team of Mel Gibson and Danny Glover, but they make a valiant go of it. Gosling is game to dive down on his hands and knees getting embarrassingly dirty in some fantastic physical comedy that had me laughing out loud more than a couple of times. Crowe gets into his role more internally by packing on the weight externally.
Don’t let the idea of THE NICE GUYS being a comedy fool you. This is a violent crime film that delves a bit into the 70’s porn industry. Nothing about this film would I ever recommend to anyone who prefers a lighter tone in death, curse words, or nudity. I found that gratuitous violence and nudity surrounding some of the small bits of humor a bit off-putting. It’s hard for me to laugh when a young girl or innocent bystander is needlessly shot dead. Holland’s daughter Holly (excellently portrayed by Angourie Rice) brings some nice humor and levity from a child’s perspective. While the character’s wholesomeness helps guide the moral compass among all the filth, it can also be quite cringe-worthy in all these not-suitable-for-kid situations.
Sometimes THE NICE GUYS loses focus within the action and the humor doesn’t always sustain consistency throughout. However, the physical humor is orchestrated brilliantly, mostly due to the very talented Ryan Gosling. THE NICE GUYS doesn’t always work, but the silly absurdities and delightful non sequitur conclusions, make it worth seeing, just be aware that it earns the R-rating.