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Review: The Nice Guys – “Funky, foolish and very funny”

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the nice guys

Let us head back to Los Angeles in the 1970s. Loud clothes, cool cars, incredible music and air pollution. It is this environment that we slip into for Shane Black’s The Nice Guys. If you have seen Black’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang you will already know what to expect. A couple of men, one is a bit of an idiot, the other knows how to handle himself. They get involved with some shady business. Funny things happen and people die.

Personally, I am more than happy to watch Shane Black bring us more of that as it is an absolute joy to watch. However, The Nice Guys just has the basic blueprint and is a warmer film compared to Kiss Kiss. Sure, people die (often innocent bystanders die), but The Nice Guys are more of a family unit.

We have Ryan Gosling’s inept, alcoholic Holland March. A private eye whose wife died leaving him to look after his daughter, Holly. She is played by Angourie Rice and she is amazing in the film. As my friend Pete said, her relationship with her father is similar to that of Inspector Gadget. She is the Penny of the team, cleaning up all the messes that her father leaves in his wake.

Gosling is fantastic as Holland. A mixture of Lou Costello, Harold Lloyd and a little bit of Magnum sees him do great things on screen. The physical comedy he displays is totally different to any of the characters that we usually see him portray in the likes of Drive, The Notebook and The Place Beyond The Pines. I hope we see him do more comedy roles in the future.

Russell Crowe plays Jackson Healy, a tough guy trying to do the right thing and almost making it. He is rarely flustered and beneath his gruffness there is a big heart. Once he teams up with Holland and Holly he begins to find a purpose.

They are all brought together after the death of a porn star, Misty Mountains, and a missing girl. That all lead on to bigger, murkier things. As usual with these noir type of shenanigans the why isn’t the point. It is all about the characters and the journey they go on. The Nice Guys is no different – from a party at a rich porn producer’s house, to a hit man named after one of the Waltons we go from the highs and lows of what L.A. had to offer in the Seventies.

The city and the era portrayed is almost a character in itself. Everything that happens was a result of the City of Angels and the problems it was going thorough back then. Hats off to the set dressers, costumes designers and the people doing the CG that takes us back in time. We know that this is not the real 1970s, but they do a damn fine job of making it look that way. I look forward to seeing the behind the scenes video that shows just how much CG was used in the shots of the city as you just cannot tell when watching the film. Brilliant work. Plus we also get a very cool soundtrack using the music of the era.

The supporting cast are, on the whole, excellent – Keith David, Matt Bommer, Beau Knapp, Yaya DaCosta, Margaret Qualley and the rest do great work.

The fact we have Russell Crowe and Kim Basinger back together after L.A. Confidential should bring wonders to the screen, but when Basinger is there she just doesn’t sell what her character is trying to portray.

Whenever Gosling and Crowe are together on screen it just lights right up. The chemistry the two have is phenomenal. The interplay and banter they have makes you feel that they have known each other for years and I do hope to see them together again in either a sequel to this or something else. They are that good together you could just watch them as the two characters just driving around the city for a couple of hours.

Of course, it doesn’t matter how good they are at acting, it would all fall down if the script wasn’t up to par. Luckily, this is a Shane Black tale and there is some cracking dialogue for all involved to sink their teeth into. However, it never quite reaches the heights of the witty banter on display in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, but it does get very close. The difference could simply be due to the fact the characters in The Nice Guys click together a lot sooner, meaning they don’t have the hatred simmering away as long as Robert Downey Jr and Val Kilmer did in Kiss Kiss.

At the end of the day, The Nice Guys is funky, foolish, and very funny. A great comedy noir featuring great characters and a tight script that is well worth your time.

4-out-of-5

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