Shane Black, the genius who wrote ‘Lethal Weapon’ - don’t judge me, we all know you cry yourself to sleep at night because there are only four - made his splash as a director in 2005 with the spectacular modern detective noir ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’. After following that up with a stint for Marvel at the helm of ‘Iron Man 3’, he’s now back doing what he loves - a buddy comedy noir, only this one is set in the 70s.
In 1977 Los Angeles, Holland March (Ryan Gosling) is “the world’s worst detective” according to his 13-year-old daughter Holly (Angourie Rice). He may be an alcoholic, clumsy, lack integrity and a smidgen amoral, but underneath it all he does actually have the smarts for his chosen vocation. When Holland and tough-man-for-hire Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) discover they’re actually searching for the same girl, they team up, with the resourceful Holly in tow. What started as a crazy old lady believing her famous porn star niece to still be alive two days after her highly publicised death quickly becomes a more sinister, deeper and higher conspiracy than anyone had bargained for.
Okay, so the plot needs some work and the characters have some holes to fill in their backstories, but ‘The Nice Guys’ is so much fun. Gosling is clearly the leader of the pack here; his character gives us the most funny and memorable moments, and is the victim of the most physical actions including falling down a hill, falling off a hotel and swimming with mermaids. Russell Crowe just does Russell Crowe. He’s the straight guy to Gosling's goofball. He’s deep-voiced with a strong presence (in part due to the huge amount of weight he voluntarily stacked on for the role) and despite being the source of most of the violence he’s also the film's moral compass, despite his character not actually possessing one. The real revelation here is Australian youngster Angourie Rice. She’s short, she’s blonde, she’s putting on an American accent and yet she absolutely dominates her two older, more experienced, more Oscar-winning, more male co-stars. It is a sight to behold.
'The Nice Guys’ is so much fun.
‘The Nice Guys’ is by no means a perfect film - nor is it the best on anyone's résumé - but this trio are electric on screen together. If you’re a nitpicker, as I am, the holes and flaws will eventually get to you, but not before the film has finished. It’s just too darn silly and entertaining to not give you a good time... for 2 hours at least.