"The Nice Guys"
Release Date: May 20, 2016
Running Time: 116 minutes
Writer/director Shane Black didn’t invent the buddy action comedy of the 1980s but he sure as heck perfected the template for it with his screenplay for 1987’s Lethal Weapon. No Lethal Weapon, no Bad Boys, Rush Hour, 21 Jump Street, or The Heat, right? Yes, Black has written or directed films that fall outside that subgenre, but he always seems compelled to return to the kind of action comedy that earned him big bucks in the late 1980s and early 1990s as a screenwriter. So naturally Black would follow up Iron Man 3 with the 1970s-set The Nice Guys, which pairs Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling as two down-on-their-luck Los Angelenos searching for a missing young woman who’s linked to a plot involving corrupt business practices by the Big Three automakers. Crowe’s Jackson Healy earns a living bearing up the scumbags who prey upon under-aged girls; Gosling’s Holland March works as a private detective but he’s so bad at his job that the widower’s teen-age daughter Holly constantly reminds him of his shortcomings. As funny and as engaging as 2005’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, The Nice Guys makes great use of its 1970s L.A. setting as Crowe and Gosling crisscross the city trying to solve their case and causing all sorts of mayhem along the way. Black pits L.A.’s party-town mentality against the political turbulence of a post-Nixon America that leaves such ordinary folks as Healy and March disfranchised and fearful of their long-term prospects. Crowe and Gosling make for a perfect odd couple, with the former constantly finding amusing ways to needle the latter for his obvious failings. They chew on Black’s snappy dialogue with relish and throw themselves into the action with infectious enthusiasm. Black also blesses both their own hilarious running joke, with Gosling’s employed as a metaphor for his character’s downward spiral. It also reveals Gosling has a natural flair for slapstick comedy. Angourie Rice manages to steal every scene she’s in as March’s daughter by nailing Holly’s “wiser beyond her years” attitude and her willingness to get her hands dirty to help her psychologically damaged father. She deserves her own spinoff. For those of us who desperately wanted a sequel to Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, but knew well full we wouldn’t get one due to that film’s box office failure, The Nice Guys is the next best thing.
Aired: May 19, 2016
Web site: http://www.theniceguysmovie.com/