Monday, May 23, 2016

[Review] The Nice Guys

Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe star in this retro detective romp that lives up to the promise of its exuberant and spunky trailer.

Smoggy LA in the '70s. Tower Records and billboards for Jaws 2 line the sunset strip. Meet Healy (Crowe)--a punisher for hire, and March (Gosling)--a bumbling Private Investigator that gets points for at least trying. The two don't team up so much as they clash (their first encounter involves Healy breaking March's arm and then casually chugging a Yoohoo afterwards) in order to locate a missing girl name Amelia, who apparently is a key link in the sudden death of a high profile porn star who goes by Misty Mountains (which sounds like an unintentional Lord of the Rings reference).

Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe are both a riot here. It's nice to see a couple of guys who have been known to be in some very solemn movies over the years flex their comedy muscles and indulge in some slapstick shenanigans. Shane Black and Anthony Bagarozzi's script is littered with witty one-liners, offbeat interplay, and surefire quotables. March is a walking purveyor of Godwin's law and Healy can only do his best to tolerate the antics. The chemistry these two form puts most modern buddy cop comedies to shame.

And it's the physical humor that really takes hold. There's hardly a time when Gosling's character isn't getting beat up or falling off of something. The guy takes more L's than Wile E. Coyote. A few scenes kept me laughing long after they passed: A disheveled March fearing for his life in a bathroom stall, holding up a pistol and a newspaper after being interrupted while dropping a deuce... March and Healy accidentally heaving a dead body onto a fancy outdoor dinner party...

The story's pulpy neo-noir case is as winding as the roads in the Hollywood Hills, and it turns forgivably ridiculous. The Nice Guys is also fairly subversive. The characters don't really have arcs, and the status remains mostly unchanged in the end--and it works. Not shown in the trailer, is how big of a role March's daughter Holly (impressive newcomer Angourie Rice) plays. She practically becomes a third detective. March, questionably at best--lets Holly roam around the crime-ridden area overnight, she's caught in the line of bullets several times on his watch, and at one point she sneaks into a scuzzy over-the-top mansion party. March is too busy getting inebriated and taking swims through mermaid tanks to notice. So, he might receive the Worst Parent of the Year award, and somehow we're still rooting for him... and laughing at him.

* 8.5/10 *

No comments:

Post a Comment