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The Nice Guys - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
The Nice Guys
Directing: B+
Acting: B+
Writing: B+
Cinematography: B
Editing: B+

The Nice Guys is the kind of movie that usually falls short of what you want it to be, but this time the surprise is that it actually delivers. When it comes to the bottom-line litmus test -- did it make me laugh? -- it passes with flying colors. It's also delightfully clever and a fun period piece that takes us back to a 1977 Los Angeles. You think the air is gross there now? Consider that the current air quality is a vast improvement over what it was forty years ago.

It's always nice to see a comedy that doesn't just go for easy laughs. Here, director and co-writer Shane Black offers context for the humor. And he has an eye for detail: if you're paying attention you'll notice those smoggy shots of downtown L.A. show only the buildings that were actually standing at the time. Not a lot of comedies -- or particularly action comedies -- are so conscientious with production design, and more of them should be.

Shane Black, by the way, has a pretty solid action-comedy resume. This is the guy who wrote the Lethal Weapon movies, and The Long Kiss Goodnight, and the underrated (and itself often surprisingly funny) 2005 film Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. He also wrote and directed Iron Man 3, and okay that one's not exactly a masterpiece but it's better than any part-3 tends to be. In any case, he offers a unique comic vision with The Nice Guys.

He cast a large-gutted Russell Crowe as the guy who gets hired to show up at people's doorstep, punch them in the face, and tell them to stay away from this person or that person. Ryan Gosling is the private investigator whose face gets one of these punches, and whose arm also gets broken, which is why Gosling spends the majority of the movie in an arm cast. He also plays a single dad to a fun young girl (Angourie Rice) who is necessarily wise beyond her years and regularly finds ways to help out these often hapless guys. One of them refuses to drink and the other drinks a little too readily. You might not expect this to make for great comedy but it often does. As with anything, it's all in the handling, and in the delivery.

The plot, involving the mysterious death of the porn star daughter of a prosecutor played by Kim Basinger, gets a little complicated. But with each complication, The Nice Guys gets more fun. And it starts off strong: the opening sequence features a car running down a cliff and barreling through a residential home. The car is first seen from inside the house, a jolt of recognition as you see the car in the distance through a window in the background. This sets the stage for clever comic twists that continue with satisfying consistency.

Crowe and Gosling make a great team, and although The Nice Guys sags occasionally, its slumps are always short lived, until suddenly you're finding yourself in the midst of impressively staged fights, involving fists or guns or both. There's just the slightest zaniness to the proceedings, just the right amount, so that it's solidly entertaining rather than veering into the outright stupid. Most of the time it comes at a such a steady clip that whatever minor flaws the movie has are quickly forgivable.

It's been a while since I've seen a comedy that did so well at delivering on its promise. The Good Guys is both a movie with no pretense at being anything it's not, but also features an unusually intelligent wit, especially for how silly a lot of it is on the surface. It's the depth of thought that went into it that sets this movie apart. Other movies succeed at just making you laugh, which is fine, but this one impresses in its execution at the same time. Its humor and wit keeps coming from unexpected places, sneaking up on you, and there's something unusually gratifying about that.

Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling are on the case in THE NICE GUYS.

Overall: B+
1 comment or Leave a comment
brtmh From: brtmh Date: May 25th, 2016 08:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'd give it an A-.
1 comment or Leave a comment