Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Movie Review #427: "The Nice Guys" (2016)

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Movie"The Nice Guys"
Director: Shane Black
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 37 minutes

A private investigator named Holland March (Ryan Gosling) and a muscle-for-hire named Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) get involved in a missing persons case that involves a porn star, an activist, the department of justice, and Detroit auto manufacturers. When everyone involved in the case starts turning up dead, Healy and March start to wonder if they are in over their heads.

Writer and director Shane Black is no stranger to neo-noir dark comedies featuring a rag-tag duo. In fact, it seems to be his niche. His film "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" garnered a strong cult following and hefty critical praise, and now, Black presents his latest crime comedy, "The Nice Guys," in the hopes that it will receive the same acclaim with a little more commercial success. So far, it has! Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe star as private investigator Holland March and muscle-for-hire/unlicensed private dick Jackson Healy. Gosling's Holland March specializes in a niche market himself, typically working for elderly customers who are looking for their loved ones. He has most recently been hired by Mrs. Glenn, played by Lois Smith, who claims to have spotted her niece, porn star Misty Mountains, played by Murielle Telio. There's just one problem: Misty Mountains has just died in a car wreck. The person he did see, however, is a girl named Amelia, played by Margaret Qualley, who has now become a person of interest to him. This is how March meets Jackson Healy. Amelia hires Jackson to beat March up in order to get him to leave her alone. Healy finds himself thrust in the mix when two other men who are looking for Amelia come to his home and threaten him, so Healy turns around and hires Holland, the man he just beat up. You dig? The pair of mismatched men must pool their resources and find out what the hell is going on.

Shane Black has a knack for putting together two people who you might not normally associate with each other through his expert, tongue-in-cheek writing, his excellent camerawork, and his dark sense of humor. The best thing about "The Nice Guys" is the chemistry between Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling. Right off the bat, you can tell the two of them work extremely well off of one another, pushing each others buttons and ruffling each others feathers like old pals. Crowe's Healy serves as the more brash-and-smash of the two, yet is somehow more composed and collected. Gosling's March is a bit of reactive mess, but clearly has excellent private investigator skills once you peel back the layers of booze. It helps that the script is full of devilish whit, goofy slapstick, and some extremely well written banter, in addition to what we can only assume is a moderate amount of improvising by both Gosling and Crowe. The way these characters are crafted is pure and simple magic. In addition, there are also some great supporting characters, too. Matt Bomer is menacing as John Boy, and though he is not in the film for long, he really was a fantastic casting choice for such a part. Keith David's Older Man is always around when you don't want him to be. It's nice to see David still popping up here and there. Finally, the breakout star of the film, young Angourie Rice, who plays Holland's daughter Holly. Rice is superb as the sneaky, snarky, too old for her age Holly. In many ways, she's really the best thing about the film as she is both smart, funny, and has a wonderful rapport with both Gosling and Crowe as they all find themselves working this case.

There are tons of laughs throughout this film. As a dark comedy, the jokes and humor mainly come from the plot's slightly twisted situations, but we are just the audience to be entertained by such a story. Be aware, "The Nice Guys" is not for everyone, and it takes someone a little messed up in the head to be intrigued by a story with so much sex, drugs, death, and dated 70's style. There are also some great action sequences as well, most of which are intentionally over-the-top and silly. The overall feel of the movie is both cool and downright fun. The clothing is outrageous, the hair is bulbous, the cars sleek, the lingo hip for the time, everything comes together expertly to make an amusing, riotous, pleasurable viewing experience. For us, "The Nice Guys" is the type of film we crave to watch. This is an unequivocal must see film, especially for those who are into dark comedies and crime mysteries.


My Rating: 9/10
BigJ's Rating: 9/10
IMDB's Rating: 8.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 91%
Do we recommend this movie: ABSOLUTELY YES!!!
One year ago, we were watching: "Pitch Perfect"

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