nice guys poster (257x380)

By Chaz Lipp

The Nice Guys is a summer highlight that got buried among the onslaught of higher-profile, higher-budget releases. Writer-director Shane Black’s buddy comedy deserves to find a wider audience at some point. The unmemorable title couldn’t have helped. Maybe the ’70s setting created too much of a retro vibe to hook younger moviegoers. Whatever the case, Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling make a funny, appealing team as semi-competent Los Angeles-based private investigators in 1977.

nice guys ryan goslingThe Nice Guys traffics in pornography, sometimes graphic violence, and frequently puts a child in peril. All additional reasons that might help explain why the film stalled at the box office. But if you’re not offended by those particular elements, this is a must-see. After the opening blast that sees the car-crash death of porn star Misty Mountains (Murielle Telio), strong-arm man Jackson Healy (Crowe) and P.I. Holland March (Ryan Gosling) find themselves working together (having not known each other previously). One of Misty’s associates, newcomer to the porn scene, Amelia (Margaret Qualley), has gone missing. How the auto industry and the United States Department of Justice are involved is all part of the fun.

At its core, we have an old-fashioned mystery that unravels at just the right pace. A protracted action sequence during the film’s climax arguably extends the running time (116 minutes) further than it should. But the laughs and plot twists are otherwise expertly deployed (and both are plentiful). Director Black’s secret weapon here is Angourie Rice, the young Australian actress who plays Holland’s teen daughter Holly. Rice is a real find. She knows how to properly deadpan a punchline. She also provides The Nice Guys with real heart.

nice guys russell croweDepressed over her father’s alcohol-fueled bumbling and disturbed by Jackson’s violent tactics, Holly is an unlikely voice of reason and symbol of good-hearted innocence amidst all the crime figures and conspiracy players that populate Black’s world. She tags along with Jackson and Holland, unwanted at first but eventually supplying a conscience to the adults’ underworld dealings.

While you may have missed The Nice Guys at theaters last month, be sure to seek it out when it hits the home video market.

The Nice Guys Images: Warner Bros. 

Chaz Lipp

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