The buddy movie has been a great staple of the comedy genre for the longest time. Yet it hasn’t always been something that necessarily inspires a lot of critical acclaim. Yet great chemistry between two leads has often been the backbone of something special when given the right material for both actors and director to work with. The Nice Guys is such a film, witty, funny, stylish and with just enough heart and added to the mix two great leads that work well off each other. Find out how this all comes together in our review.
Set in the year 1977, Misty Mountains is an adult film star who dies in a ”suspicious” car accident. When another actress from Misty’s final film is being harassed she hires Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) to get her would-be harassers off her back. Jackson usually achieves his job goals with his fists. One person on the list is private investigator Holland March (Ryan Gosling). It soon becomes very clear that this is beyond the skill set of either man and way beyond anything small time they have ever involved themselves in. So they combine forces in the most oddly dysfunctional pairing in a long time.
Shane Black is a director you might not have a great deal of familiarity with anything that he has done other than perhaps Iron Man 3. Yet for the longest time, Shane Black was the screenwriter behind great buddy movies such as Lethal Weapon and the Last Boy Scout. Despite a long career as a screenwriter, it wasn’t until his brilliant directorial debut in 2005 with one of my favourite films Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, a darkly funny detective story, that people began to take notice of him.
The Nice Guys is a combination of the best of Shane Black, both a buddy movie with a wonderful detective kick and a large part of why that movie succeeds works largely because of the wonderful chemistry between the two leads. Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling work together so well. It’s at first that painfully rigid of awkward allies but then a striking friendship.
If you look at the trailer I’ve embedded with the review, you can get a sense of the humour and dialogue at play. Very witty yet very rarely feel like a set-up for a joke. They play off a lot of dynamics tough guy/ nice guy, fish out of water and that type of thing. Yet it never feels worn out.
There is a physicality to the humour which at times is like slapstick and at other times quite dark. Jackson informing Holland what type of injury he should tell his doctor he has right before he break his arm. Two people fall from a building one hits the pool below and the ridiculously inappropriate celebration that comes afters and it’s filled with beats like these.
Yet it is never completely unaware of the chaos and darkness that is around them. The violence has stakes at times and at other shows the movies big heart. A chase that involves Holland’s daughter finds her chaser hit by a car in the horrible of ways. Rather than use this moment to run away she finds herself offering to hold his hand in his final moments. It’s filled with little moments like these that make it stand out.
Perhaps grounding its movie in small realistic struggles. An alcoholic detective struggling to be a good dad, a man who’s only skill is violence but actually wants to do something meaningful. I’ve struggled, to sum up it’s moving parts but what the Nice Guys when it comes together it just works beautifully.
It’s also a movie that about a murder mystery and a bit of an action thriller. It might be the mix of different styles that makes everything feel fascinating.
There is a great sense of play that comes tonally from all the humour but it’s also the Seventies style and music to match.
The supporting cast is also something worth writing about. The likes of Kim Basinger, Keith David mix it up with the like of newcomer Angourie Rice and all make for some quirky, frightening and at times endearing characters.
The Nice Guys in spite of all it offers does occasionally stumble. Some jokes don’t exactly work. The bee joke involving a car accident is a kind of a poor sequence about being too tired to drive. It’s jokes like these that make the whole thing seem a tad too long. But it’s only the smallest of problems.
The Nice Guys Review Cheat Sheet.
I saw the Nice Guys many weeks ago and have been bumbling around a review since. It’s not because I didn’t want to write about, in fact the exact opposite. This is a wonderful film and is one of the best times I’ve had in the cinema this year. Funny, thoughtful and well written. Filled with style, clever writing, and two leads who seem to actually want to share the screen together means The Nice Guys is a must see! It’s difficult to describe exactly what the magic behind it all is but go and see and find out.
+ Wonderful chemistry between Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling
+ Humour that is dark and whimsical, physical and cerebral all while not feeling like the set-up for a joke.
+ A clever soul and subtle heart to the movie.
+ 70s style and music.
– a little bit too long.