This comedic crime thriller is a classic experience from writer/director Shane Black. A recommended watch.
An alcoholic private investigator is bewildered when he is asked to track down a dead porn star who died mysteriously yet believed to still be alive. During his search he meets an unlicenced investigator with anger management issues, both men discover they are involved in the same case, and it would involve asphyxiated birds, assassins, mermaids and strippers.
Since Iron Man 3 was distinctly average for me, I questioned Shane Black’s directorial choices; the third installment felt indulgent on his and Downey Jr’s parts, I had very slight doubts about this. However The Nice Guys is a roaring good time.
Black directs his stars wonderfully here; Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe have a dynamite chemistry in this reluctant buddy comedy routine! Gosling is still surprising me, with The Big Short earlier this year, the stoic and silent protagonist has grown into an animated, charismatic goof! Russell Crowe too acts his usual gruff, gravelly self but also as a perfect foil for Gosling’s unorthodox antics.
The film grabs you immediately with both characters isolated: Crowe’s Jackson Healy hunting down possible child predators to beat them senseless with brass knuckles and reading a calming novelty calendar; while Gosling’s Holland March wakes in a full bathtub, fully dressed, is driven around by his young daughter and getting a job investigating an old widow’s missing husband… whose ashes are sitting on the mantelpiece.
What follows is an insanely unprofessional investigation into a death and a missing girl named Amelia, where Gosling gets to show some incredible physical comedy and glorious pratfalls! The film just keeps on going too, and it just escalates. It is gorgeously set in 1970s aesthetics, I think Black really likes the 1970s… and Christmas.
It isn’t long in the tooth either, nor does it outstay its welcome; Gosling has not only a drunken persona but also his teenage daughter Holly who has matured sensibilities (probably filling an absent mother figure) and fully understands what the adults are talking about. She is a gem in this film. In fact the child actors in this film are played so ridiculously over the top that one can only laugh and agree that yes, yes in fact kids do sound like that sometimes!
I am having trouble thinking of what’s wrong with it as a comedy. This is my sort of comedy (a scene early on, an especially dark scene, involving Gosling and breaking into a house had me especially laughing!) one could argue that I was almost losing sight on what was happening in the plot; some of the opening scenes that would later bookend the film felt very disconnected initially and would benefit from a second viewing.
Not really a flaw when it makes you want to watch it again!
I greatly enjoyed it and would recommend it for anyone who likes black comedies, buddy cop movies and action comedies. Gosling’s physical comedy was on point!
Additional Marshmallows: There was even Keith David in this film!