Bursting onto a summer movie scene chock full of superhero movies, soulless reboots, and cash grabbing sequels, The Nice Guys offers a hilarious old school buddy comedy reprieve from the monotony of the regular multiplex programing. Written and directed by legendary Hollywood screenwriter Shane Black, the king of mismatched buddy comedies, this film fits right into his filmography of great action, loveable losers, and hilarious comedy.
Set in 1977, The Nice Guys is the story of two men through an existential crisis in sunny Los Angeles, California. The world, the country, and our main characters are on edge. Who do you trust in an ever-changing society? Ryan Gosling plays Holland March, a down on his luck private investigator who is a single dad and a barely functioning alcoholic. He is often so drunk that his underage daughter, played by Angourie Rice, has to drive him around. Russell Crowe plays Jackson Healy, a private enforcer for hire who makes his living roughing people. After a chance encounter involving bodily harm to Holland, these unlikely partners are brought together to find out where a young woman named Amelia is. As the case goes on, they realize that some dangerous people are after her and that this case may take them down into some dark places.
|Well, hi there. Wanna hang out?|
Like any Shane Black movie, The Nice Guys works on multiple levels. As a neo-noir, it does a great job of both honor and subverting noir tropes. The use of narration really added to the background of the characters and told a lot about the story. The script as a whole is really smart and doesn’t waste your time. There are some scenes at first that feel pointless but eventually at the end, everything comes together beautifully. Every character has their moment to shine and every scene in the film has a purpose. This is a film that has joke after joke and merits multiple watches just to capture all of them. I imagine on rewatch that the lesser parts of the film will improve. As an action film, it is well edited and well shot. No shaky cam and no quick cut after quick cut. It’s sad that one of my positives for this movie is the fact that I was able to understand the visual language of the film easily. This shouldn’t be something I have to say and yet many other action movies over use shaky cam and quick cuts. Hopefully other films learn lessons from this movie.
As a period piece, it also does a great job of capturing the cultural feeling of the late seventies. The days are lit so bright and the nights are lit dark and full of terror. There is a constant sense of cynicism among the characters, which tied to the cultural feeling of that time. The popular culture references are there but are never just there for the sake of just being there. The music choice was appropriate and never clashed with the tone of the film. The soundtrack really added to the feel of the film. This film overall did a great job of capturing the atmosphere of the seventies.
|To think. I used to be a Gladiator.|
Last but not least, the comedy in this film is gut bustlingly funny. Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe have never been funnier than this movie. Gosling carries the film with his reactions to the world around him. His interactions with Rice and Crowe are the heart of the film. The audience I saw this film laughed hard through out the film. Sometimes jokes were missed because people were laughing so hard. If it weren’t for the subversion or the film’s sense of humor, it wouldn’t nearly be as great as it is.
As a whole, The Nice Guys is a great summer movie filled with action, humor, and suspense. Shane Black has managed to make Russell Crowe likeable again which is no easy task. It is a fun time at the theaters that I desperately want to see again. As the screening ended, I wanted to start it over and see the little things I missed the first time while watching. I think this is not only one of the funniest movies of this year; it’s one of the best of this year. I hope that audiences go give this film a chance so that we can get more original films like this.
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-Liam S. O'Connor