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It Pays to be Nice.

It’s safe to say that Shane Black has a gift for capturing all of the best aspects of a buddy cop film. He introduced us to his talents with the Lethal Weapon franchise, and drove home the area of expertise with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Now over a decade later, Black has delivered yet another home run with The Nice Guys. Set in the streets of Los Angeles in the 1970s, The Nice Guys explores a time that was being flooded with crime and deceitful bravado. It was a time when good morals seemed to fall by the wayside, and the desire for a hero was prevalent. Contrary to what might be expected, our leads of the film don’t quite fit the typical heroic standard. Instead, Gosling and Crowe combine for some of the best comedic chemistry with their out-of-the- ordinary schemes since Mel Gibson and Danny Glover. They create a duo that leaves the audience applauding their unorthodox tactics, and doubled over in hysterics. To be expected, confident directing from Black, a phenomenal yet surprising cast, and an above average plot filled with the occasional twist and turn made for a recipe that developed a necessary breath of fresh air in this genre.Gosling plays Holland March, a less than stellar detective who is faced with the tasking job of raising his 13 year-old daughter, Holly (Angourie Rice), by his lonesome after his wife was killed in a house explosion. The fact that March approaches this job while also juggling a staunch alcohol dependency clearly doesn’t help things. Despite his lack of expertise, March is hired to track down a porn star by the name of Misty Mountains. We are introduced to Misty in the film’s opening scene when a young boy is seen getting nice and familiar with her centerfold picture in a popular nudie magazine. The boy’s moment is interrupted when a car goes bowling through his house. When he investigates the crash he finds Miss Mountains in a similar position as her photo, only this time she is bloody and dying, which is understandably less erotic.

March flexes what investigative muscles he has and decides to tack down another porn star, Amelia, who has worked with Misty in the past. Not surprisingly, Amelia is one step ahead of March and decided to hire herself some protection in the form of a punch-happy P.I. named Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe). Healy makes it very clear to March that it would be in his best interests to stop pursuing Amelia. In these moments of resistance, Gosling hits his stride and delivers some of the film’s best moments. When the two unconventional investigators realize that there is something fishy in the air of the polluted L.A. streets, they team up to expose the dirt behind a particular adult production. From here, the nice guys are born and the movie takes off. Each and every beat is dripping with vintage Shane Black style and it does not disappoint. The city of L.A. plays as the film’s main villain, and our two pseudo heroes become fan favorites by showing even the smallest amounts of decency in an otherwise filthy world.

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The Nice Guys shows us a time where corruption and foul play seem to be taking over in too many facets of life. The pornography industry is on the rise, criminals are infesting the streets and corporate America acts as the puppet master in even the smallest of dealings. Black gives us a story about an eclectic collection of people all trying to get by in a world where decency isn’t the most popular of choices. March and Healy are the perfect escorts to lead us through the story, creating opposing personas that clash and combine in the most splendid way. Healy’s rough and tough attitude is brutal but fair, making him the muscle that you can appreciate. March’s bumbling alcoholism has a charming appeal that creates hilarious and victorious moments when he shows that he just might not be the worst detective in the world. As these two men navigate their way through waters that are often times too deep for them, we can see that deep down they want to do the right thing, as long as it’s for a decent price.

Gosling and Crowe have an immediate on screen chemistry that could take just about any script and make it a worthwhile endeavor. Combining it with great directing and a solid story allowed The Nice Guys to become the smash hit that it is. A few times the movie found itself biting off more than it could chew when it allowed the plot to get a bit too busy with an attempt of getting overly clever with the conflict of the story. The groove and stride lives in the cast and the way they maneuver with each other on the journey. The comedy was fresh, and somewhere lined within the pornography, heavy drinking, and shootouts lies genuine heart that cannot be missed. Most films have their share of blunders, and The Nice Guys’ occasional hiccups of a few missed jokes and some cluttered plot points are more than over looked and outshined by a dominating presence of entertainment.

On the whole, this film provides pieces of comedic gold that have been missing from the movie theater for a long time. The timing and delivery of two actors so completely in sync as well as some vastly underrated choreography pull together to create a delightfully refreshing film. Something about the way Gosling and Crowe manage to be heroes while not having a single heroic characteristic is marvelous. Watching Gosling smash through windows and tumble down hills while at the same time appear to be a knight in shining armor is something that has not been achieved in this genre for too long. Crowe’s portrayal of a brute that just wants to make a difference in the world is a guy that we always root for, but he does it with a pair of brass knuckles, and you can’t not love that. At the end of the film, Gosling and Crowe combine their businesses to form a super group of crime fighting, if you will. Black even seems to tease us with a possible sequel, and you’d have to be a bad guy to not want that.

Directed By:  Shane Black

Written By: Shane Black and Anthony Bagarozzi

Produced By: Joel Silver, Kenneth Kao, Hal Sadoff, Anthony Bagarozzi, Alex Walton, Michael J. Malone

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Russell Crowe, Matt Bomer, Angourie Rice

Distributed By: Warner Brothers, Waypoint Entertainment, and Silver Pictures

Release Date: May 20th, 2016

Run time : 117 minutes

Rated: R


About The Author

Contributing Writer

Dan graduated from Babson College with a BS in Marketing and Business Management. Since graduating from college, he has moved to Los Angeles where he works as a writer and actor. Dan is working on numerous screen plays and shorts for both TV and film. Some of my work can be seen on Funny Or Die.