The Nice Guys Review

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From Lethal Weapon to Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Shane Black has been instrumental in evolving the buddy cop genre. After delving into the superhero genre with Iron Man 3, Black has returned to his roots with The Nice Guys. But is The Nice Guys a return to form for the buddy cop maestro or does it fail to live up to his already impressive resume?

It is unquestionably a return to form for Shane Black. Led by the Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling, The Nice Guys is a happy-go-lucky film that has a style-over-substance spirit that is inherently charismatic.

The Nice Guys follows Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) and Holland March (Ryan Gosling) as they delve into the disappearance of a girl named Amelia (Margaret Qualley). As they go through 1977 Los Angeles searching for Amelia, the bumbling duo unwittingly unravels a web of corporate conspiracy and local corruption.

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As he did in his excellent 2005 directorial debut Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Black and his co-writer Anthony Bagarozzi aptly balances the action-packed moments with a non-stop barrage of one-liners and physical comedy. The film does have its dark and serious moments, but the dialogue, characters, and jokes are so sharp that you’ll be having too much of a good time to notice them. Unfortunately, The Nice Guys isn’t sharply paced as his previous directorial efforts. Its pacing continuously wavers between quick and sluggish and it does get a little tedious. In addition, the film’s plot escalates into a convoluted conspiracy that unfolds in a very muddy way.

Unsurprisingly, it’s Gosling and Crowe that put the entire film on their back and runs with it one joke at a time. It’s hard to believe that Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling would fit in a buddy cop film, but they actually have great comedic chemistry together. They’re the sole reason why the film is as fun as it is. Gosling fans will be delighted to see his newfound propensity for humiliation. Crowe, at the expense of his consistently game co-star, shows that he has an untapped gift for comedy. He gives the Healy the essence of a lovable lug, and his barely disguised exasperation with Gosling is priceless to watch.

While these two are known primarily for their intense dramatic roles, it’s that dramatic commitment that makes the movie work as they fully inhabit their respective characters. The pair plays off one another so successfully that you feel like you’re witnessing the beginnings of a beautiful friendship, much like Riggs and Murtaugh.

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Angourie Rice, who plays Gosling’s daughter, is quite mature for her age and she never lets her precociousness become obnoxious. Instead, it’s actually quite endearing. She looks after her father, who as you might expect is a man-child, as he is the only family she has left.

Margaret Qualley or Kim Basinger never quite hit their mark and neither actress leaves a lasting impression. Although Qualley is the focus of March and Healy’s case, her character is frustratingly annoying. Her actions remind me of teenagers in slasher films who do idiotic things. But give credit where credit is due, Qualley does play annoying flawlessly. On the other end, Basinger is nothing more than a glorified cameo. Henchmen Beau Knapp, Keith David, Matt Bomer, and Yaya DaCosta come and go and is never really a big part of the film.

Overall, The Nice Guys is a great reminder of just how skilled Shane Black is at crafting buddy relationships that are both richly textured and compelling. Despite its rough edges, The Nice Guys is an intoxicating popcorn flick where Gosling and Crowe should be talked about as one of the best buddy cop duos of all time. At the end of it all, you’ll be ready to come back for more.

Rating: 4/5 atoms
NR 4 Atoms - B

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Mark Pacis
Mark Pacis 1390 posts

Self-proclaimed "Human IMDb" and comic book geek. Biggest Iron Man fan you'll probably ever meet.

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