When I think Shane Black films (either direct by or written by) I think of one thing: Christmas. Those who have seen his films will know why. The Nice Guys reminds me a lot of his directorial debut Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. The writing is sharp, there is brutal violence, slapstick comedy and an irony that seems to float in and out naturally.
The Nice Guys follows to men, one a functioning alcoholic detective (Ryan Gosling) and one a straight-laced “messenger” (Russell Crowe). The functioning alcoholic detective, Holland March is on a case looking for a missing woman named Amelia. The “messenger” is Jackson Healy who is eternally grumpy and delivers punches, kicks and broken bones. Jackson starts the movie delivering a message to March, but in a turn of events starts to work with March on finding Amelia. The missing persons case quickly turns into something bigger (of course it does). Throw into the buddy movie the daughter of March played by a brilliant new-comer Angourie Rice and the dynamics of this film are quite different than any other film I have seen recently. Oh, and the movie is set in the 70s and has a very retro cool feel to it.
The film has an R-rating and it earns that rating. This is definitely a film for grown ups and because it is made for us big people, it is quite enjoyable for adults. The film, like many other Black films (written or directed) has a palpable sense of energy. It is this energy that drives the film from start to finish without letting go of my attention. Before I knew it, the film was done. I was entertained, I had cringed at some of the violence and laughed out loud at a lot of the humor.
Gosling and Crowe have an excellent onscreen chemistry that reminded me of the De Niro and Grodin partnership in Midnight Run. This is the kind of chemistry that is hard to generate if the two actors just do not have it. And when the chemistry is off, the film is off. Not here though. The two work great together onscreen. Angourie Rice is absolutely fantastic in the film. She definitely has a natural onscreen charisma, I hope she finds more work in Hollywood, she deserves it. Kudos to her. Kim Basinger makes a brief appearance in the middle and end of the film. It was good to see her onscreen.
Overall, I liked The Nice Guys a lot and would recommend the film. It is fun and entertaining. It is a weird mashup of slapstick comedy and serios retro-noir. Well worth watching.