MOVIE OF THE WEEK #1: THE NICE GUYS
WATCH THE TRAILER HERE:
KEY CAST MEMBERS: Ryan Gosling, Russell Crowe, Angourie Rice, Margaret Qualley, Keith David, Beau Knapp, Matt Bomer, Yaya DaCosta, Daisy Tahan, Jack Kilmer and Kim Basinger
WRITER(S): Anthony Bagarozzi and Shane Black
DIRECTOR(S): Shane Black
THE STORY AS BEST WE KNOW IT: Set in the sleaziest of times of 1977 Los Angeles, The Nice Guys stars Ryan Gosling as Holland March, a private investigator who is more apt at taking gullible clients’ money than he is at actually solving cases. Raising his precocious daughter Holly (Angourie Rice) by himself after the death of his wife, Holland stumbles upon the wrong case when Mrs. Glenn (Lois Smith) asks him to find her niece, adult film star Misty Mountains (Murielle Tielo).
Unfortunately, Misty died in a massive car crash a few days ago. And the girl that might know something, Amelia (Margaret Qualley), does not want to be found – which is why she has hired Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) – to do what he does best: Send a “message” (via a physical assault) to stop Holland from checking up on her.
What Holland and Jackson both don’t know, however, is why Amelia is trying to make herself so scarce. But once two thugs (Keith David and Beau Knapp) start showing up and the head of the Justice Department (Kim Basinger) gets thrown into the mix, one thing becomes clear: Amelia’s life is clearly in danger and our unlikely tandem is about to get involved WAY over their head.
WHO WILL LIKE THIS MOVIE THE MOST? Ryan Gosling fans; people who love the 1970s and all its over-the-top (or at least as depicted in movies) excess; people who can appreciate when a child actress steps up in a big way to not only add to a story, but be an integral part of it; people who like it when characters in films meet ends that seem fitting
WHO WILL HATE THIS MOVIE THE MOST? People who hate the 1970s and all its over-the-top (or at least as depicted in movies) excess; people who hate when a child actor is an integral part of a story no child should be mixed up in; those who hate watching a lighthearted character in fatal situations; those who can’t buy in to the film’s premise
SO IS IT GOOD, GREAT, JUST ALL RIGHT OR DOWNRIGHT AWFUL? For a film that on the surface looks like it could be just another mismatched homage to a bygone era, The Nice Guys is actually a very entertaining adventure that allows its cast to use their collective range to the audience’s enjoyment.
Co-writer and director Shane Black’s 1970s send up is equal parts comical and dramatic while making sure to never let one extreme become too extreme for the film’s own good. While the premise of the film seems a bit outlandish to say the least once you’ve figured out how all the moving parts work together, Black does a stellar job of making sure you understand why they fit within the world he’s created. Never trying to emulate too much a Boogie Nights vibe or imitate other ‘70s crime stories, he keeps The Nice Guys balanced but making sure each scene fits in the overall mix to add as things go back and forth from comical to (somewhat) dramatic. You get your laughs, you get some unexpected surprises and – while he never leans in on making the film have a truly serious tone – you get enough of a semblance of reason to keep you involved in watching his characters progress.
Speaking of the characters, Ryan Gosling is hilarious as the sleazy-yet-sensitive Holland March, proving himself proficient at being both the comical butt of the joke time and time again whilst others get to deliver the (in many cases) literal punchline. His take on the role of the private investigator never falls into the stereotypically stupid department, instead teetering on the line between clever and corny quite well throughout the film’s near 2 hour run time. Likewise, Crowe plays the straight man with artistic ease, using all his off-screen bravado to channel a very simple character into one you enjoy rooting for thoroughly.
The biggest scene-stealer, however, is by far any of those that happen to feature Angourie Rice as Holly. A classic WAY-too-beyond-her-13-years-of-age character, Rice accomplishes the rare feat of not only making her character essential to the story, but also so likable you nearly forget she shouldn’t be so good – both as a character and an actress. Black gets the most out of his cast by continually placing them into wacky scenarios, but be it one where she needs to help out her dad or provide a sensitive moment, Rice comes out as the biggest winner. While Black and his fellow co-writer Anthony Bagarozzi deliver enough of a story to keep you intrigued with its various twists and not-so-predictable turns, the cast’s ability to run with it is what ultimately makes The Nice Guys as enjoyable as it is.
And what it is is a pretty nice way to enjoy something different at the movies.
RATING OUT OF FOUR BUCKETS OF POPCORN: