By: Daniel Chadwick-Shubat
Shane Black is a fantastic writer. For me that is a fact that is undeniable. With the likes of Lethal Weapon, The Last Action Hero and The Long Kiss Goodnight all being penned by Black. But it wasn’t until Kiss Kiss Bang Bang that Black showed his directorial prowess as well. With The Nice Guys he has once again captured both, with a fantastic script and sure directing leading to one of the funniest and most engaging movies of the year.
In 1970s Los Angeles, bumbling private eye Holland March (Ryan Gosling) and muscle-for-hire Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) become unlikely partners when they find themselves both looking for a missing woman named Amelia (Margaret Qualley) following the death of a high-profile porn star. Amelia’s ties to the deceased actress are unclear, but as other members of the porn industry turn up dead, March and Healy’s investigation reveals a much bigger conspiracy than the duo could have ever anticipated. With the help of March’s teenage daughter Holly (Angourie Rice), their sleuthing eventually unearths corruption within the federal government.
The Nice Guys is set rather fittingly in the 1970’s. The aesthetic is very pleasing as the noir aspect blends in really nicely with the dark humor and witty banter of the movie. As stated before this begins and ends with Shane Black’s directing and writing but there’s a lot more at work here. Gosling and Crowe’s chemistry is palpable as they play off each other with hilarity ensuing.
It was quite impressive to see Gosling’s knack for comedy as he’s more known for rom-coms and serious drama. He really showed his versatility as an actor and it makes me want to see him in more comedy based movies. Crowe is also very good as Jackson Healy, a no nonsense enforcer who kick ass and doesn’t take names. His scenes with March’s daughter Holly still stand out and Crowe also shows his impressive versatility.
This leads to arguably the most impressive part of the movie and that is Angourie Rice’s performance as March’s daughter Holly. She steals every scene she’s in and shows detective skills reminiscent of Nancy Drew or The Hardy Boys. Her back and forth with her father is hilarious and she’s the moral compass of the movie, helping complete Healy’s arch come full circle. Rice is without a doubt the best child performance I’ve seen this year.
While The Nice Guys was filled with fantastic performances a lot can be said about it’s comedy that definitely made the movie so enjoyable. It felt like the comedy of old when writers didn’t rely on dick jokes and colorful humor to uphold a comedy. Many of the jokes are reminiscent of Lethal Weapon (also written by Black) and the physical comedy is absolutely terrific. They even throw in one dick joke that hits the right notes and created for one of the laugh out loud moments of the movie.
The Nice Guys didn’t really miss any beats for me. The only thing that bothered me that it sometimes felt too much like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang but that was inevitable as it was written and directed by the same director. The Nice Guys was filled with great performances, hilarity and solid directing. It hit so many right notes and for every nitpick there were ten positives about the movie. It’s strikingly original and a must watch for films fans.
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