Review: The Nice Guys

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I love a good blockbuster packed full of CGI and Super Heroes as much as the next person, but sometimes you’re in the mood to spice it up a bit, change things around. If you’re like me and feeling a bit summer-movie-fatigued already (and it’s only May), Shane Black’s The Nice Guys is a great change of pace.

I think it’s a film you shouldn’t know much about going into it, so I’ll spare you even a short/vague recap of what it’s about, though I will say it’s a standard film noir type of dish, based in Los Angeles, centered around the usual “find the missing girl who is in over her head” storyline prevalent in those worlds. It doesn’t try to rewrite the genre. However, it does choose to have as much fun as it can within the usual tropes. Jaded detectives, lovable rogues, women in trouble — they’re all here. And, set at the end of the 1970’s, it also has a great atmosphere to build its world.

It’s the type of film that allows itself to pause the plot for a moment for the sake of a good joke, or a bad joke done well. The chemistry between Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling is damn near perfect. I think I could see Crowe having actual fun in the role, something that’s not usual for him, as he’s known more for the hard drama characters than for comedy. He should try them more, because he’s got the timing for it. Ryan Gosling is perfect as the almost-spoof of a serious detective. He ends up making a total ass of himself more times than he ever plays the handsome hero we usually see him in. Angourie Rice as Gosling’s pre-teen daughter was so charming I was able to find her a plucky and fun edition to the Crowe/Gosling duo, suspending my disbelief enough to ignore the blatantly awful parenting on Gosling’s character’s part.

One of my first thoughts was “I’d watch this franchise.” I’m not sure if that says more about me or the state of the industry. The Nice Guys probably isn’t a franchise film, but I did like their journey and banter — better to come out of a movie wanting more, right? Go into it with as few expectations as possible, and the film will give you a few hours with some great performances. The Nice Guys will give you a film more rooted in chemistry and comedy than heavy plot or effects. It’s a great palette cleanser, and a genuinely good time.

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