Realistically, I am probably not the only guy to not really enjoy a lot of Ryan Gosling’s films. I don’t have anything against the guy, I am just not a super-fan of his I guess. Conversely, while I love Russel Crowe, I have to admit that he hasn’t been picking the most lights-out roles recently. So naturally, when I heard these two actors were going to be in a movie together, I thought ‘meh…’….That is until I saw the very first trailer. Surprisingly, The Nice Guys features two action or dramatic-driven actors in comedic roles. On top of that, the film really does deliver the laughs and I quite honestly walked away from that film with a new-found respect for both actors in the movie. Ryan Gosling, in particular, showed off some really great comedic timing that I thoroughly enjoyed. If these two actors were squeaky-clean child Disney stars, then to me this felt a lot like their ‘Miley Cyrus’ moment (in a good way).
Holland March (Ryan Gosling) is a down-on-his-luck private eye in 1977 Los Angeles. Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) is a hired enforcer who hurts people for a living. Fate turns them into unlikely partners after a young woman named Amelia (Margaret Qualley) mysteriously disappears. Healy and March soon learn the hard way that some dangerous people are also looking for Amelia. Their investigation takes them to dark places as anyone else who gets involved in the case seems to wind up dead.
While there is nothing ground breaking or awe-inspiring to be found whilst watching The Nice Guys, it is able to keep you engaged, engrossed and attached to the story throughout the films runtime. It is a murder-mystery first and foremost and it does a wonderful job of piecing things together little by little in the film while throwing in crazy events in between to keep the laughs coming. And given its setting, Los Angeles in the 70’s heavily featuring the porn industry, the film has no issue throwing you into some odd situations where you have no real recourse but to laugh and wonder what the fuck is going on. That’s not to say that this film goes over the deep end into ridiculousness, it merely treads that line carefully and methodically. Obviously, don’t watch this with your kids, but its a solid adult comedy that doesn’t completely rely on dumb humor to grab the audience.
The relationship between the two marquee characters in often strained in this film as they met under unfortunate circumstances that cause the two would-be partners to not trust each other initially, but I find that part of the film to be part of the fun. You KNOW by the end of the film they’re going to become full-fledged partners, but I lost seeing how that happens, how it unfolds on the silver screen. Holland March has a somewhat dark, if not ridiculous back story that makes him jaded and a drunk and it seems that the only one keeping his head above water is his adorably helpful mini-detective daughter. While Healy comes off as a cold-blooded merc but deep down he wants a purpose, a calling, and he wants to be needed and useful above all else. He’s got a heart of gold but a mind that allows him to do some unsavory acts that keep his view of himself low. By the end of the movie, neither character is even close to okay, but they’ve progressed and have come to terms with each other… and for me, it was enough to experience at least a shred of catharsis.
Two of my surprise enjoyments of this film are how funny I found Ryan Gosling to be and also how awesome his daughter, played by Angourie Rice, in the movie. Gosling displayed a lot of physical comedy as well as solid comedic timing in the film and his characters probably offered the most amount of laughs. His character had a lot of funny one-liners and would grab your attention, and he would often trip over himself, but he still was somehow able to make the character be likable and cool. Angourie Rice deserves her own movie after this role. Something akin to Nancy Drew, her character was both funny and useful… and I don’t even friggin’ like kids!
I doubt either of these two actors will be up for any awards for this film, but you will walk away from the movie smiling and even feel pleasantly surprised. And given the fact that this film only cost 50 million dollars or so to make, I welcome more films like this in the future. We live in a world where high budget franchises are all the rage which means many studios overlook projects like this to the detriment of movie goers. I know I am pretty late with this review, but I enjoyed the film so much that I saw it twice in theaters!
If you liked The Nice Guys, are my other Film recommendations:
- The Man From U.N.C.L.E (review here)