Wednesday, June 1, 2016

New Release! The Nice Guys

Director: Shane Black

One of the best times I've had at the movies in recent years. It might not be perfect or blindingly original in all facets, but The Nice Guys is a hilarious entry into the oft-botched genre of R-rated buddy flicks.

The movie follows Holland March (Ryan Gosling), a private investigator who is put on the case of finding a missing young woman, Amelia, in the drug-fueled Sodom and Gomorrah that was 1977 Hollywood, California. The case itself bears several odd elements, made all the more challenging by the fact that March is not only an alcoholic but also oddly inept at his job. Fortunately for him, he is joined by the sober and much more capable muscle-for-hire Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe). The two find themselves trying to navigate the winding, bizarre trail that Amelia leaves through the Hollywood porn industry, justice department, and even the U.S. automotive industry.

Writers Shane Black and Anthony Bagarozzi fully embraced the neo-noir style and did it tremendous justice, while at the same time turning plenty of its familiar cliches on their ears. There are more than a few sequences which begin in very familiar fashion to crime movie lovers, but which take sly little comic turns. In a move gleefully similar to The Big Lebowski, making the "hero" detective a booze-addled goof creates plenty of opportunity for humor, and the movie capitalizes.  And the characters only enhance the gags. While March does have reasons for being so down on his luck, it doesn't lessen the hilarity of his missteps and posturing. He's the perfect pairing to the grizzled, no-nonsense Healy, and their dynamic is a blast to watch. Peppered throughout all of this are several great little sight gags which are among some of the best I've seen in some time.

Gosling and Crowe make the blend of tough and hilarious
look deceptively smooth and easy. They enhance Black's
already-great script to another level.
It is difficult to imagine better casting for March and Healy than Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe. They play their characters to a tee, and left me with the same feeling that any successful buddy movie should leave - the desire to see more of them. There are a few minor characters that may not have completely fit the bill, but these were the few exceptions among the mostly-strong supporting cast.

As I write this review, the movie has been out for about two weeks and hasn't done exceptionally well at the box office. I do hope that it picks up, as I feel that this type of quality, R-rated comedy is a bit of a dying breed in movies.