By Adam Ray Palmer
Today’s review comes in the form of the buddy-cop, comedy film The Nice Guys. The Phoenix cinema was buzzing with excitement as the last few movie-goers took to their seats in the packed screening.
The Nice Guys is directed by Shane Black who brings to the world his first film that doesn’t star Robert Downey Jnr. This time, Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe have the starring credits.
This film has been receiving great praise and I personally love buddy-cop movies so this surely was a match made in heaven for me, right?
The Nice Guys follows a mismatched pair of private investigators who are both end up on the same case to crack the apparent suicide of a fading porn star in 1970s Los Angeles.
Director/writer Shane Black has been stuck telling tales of Los Angeles for the best part of 30 years now, and The Nice Guys is no different. Black continues with his formula of making the central protagonists the key features, just like he did with Downey Jnr in 2005’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. In The Nice Guys, he has heartthrob Ryan Gosling and Oscar-winning Russell Crowe to focus on.
Crowe plays Jackson Healy, a portly-bellied muscle man who gets paid here and there to ruffle a few feathers around LA, especially seedy men who harass youngsters. Gosling plays one of his best movie roles to date, an alcoholic father who, by his daughter’s opinion, is the world’s worst private investigator. He spends most his time pissed at parties and waking up in bath tubs with a three-piece on. Following some funny and awkward events, the two must pair up to crack a case to find a missing girl named Amelia (a great turn by Margaret Qualley).
Shane knows exactly what he is doing with The Nice Guys. The plot is ridiculous and what entails would never happen, but we really don’t mind that. You’re fully immersed and behind the two leads that you forget everything else. The audience wills so hard for the two losers succeed, and like any other buddy-cop films, you rejoice when they do.
However, it’s the relationship between March (Gosling) and his daughter Holly (a fantastic performance from Angourie Rice) that really creates the backbone to this narrative. Not only do we back the protagonists on their hunt for Amelia, but we also want Holly to succeed with her father. The funny thing is, Shane Black shows us that Ryan Gosling is a lousy father but we don’t mind at all. He’s an alcoholic, leaves her with a gun, leaves her on her own, let’s her drive his car – the list is endless. It’s great writing when we allow his, let’s be honest, shocking behaviour to be condoned and passed off as it is nothing.
I must confess, we allow this because Rice is so stable. She doesn’t even need her father, if anything, she is looking after him. She is a great supporting character to March and allows Gosling to shine in his role. As the young girl travels with the two cops into some dodgy sequences, it makes for some amusing scenes and let’s Shane deliver his trademark humour.
The Nice Guys is just a terrific ride. From start to finish we are hurtling down a freeway at 100 miles per hour in the driver’s seat, and it never lifts off. Yes the plot has massive flaws but that’s a part of its charm. It’s a comedy and nostalgic in equal measure. The film relies heavily on Crowe’s and Gosling’s chemistry which turns out to be a pretty good thing. The pair look like they are having a hoot in every scene. The Nice Guys is two hours of unapologetic humour and banter. I must state too, I’m not the biggest Gosling fan but he nails this role. It’s perhaps my favourite of his.
The chemistry is everything with films like this. Starsky and Hutch is the obvious comparison. The 2004 version with Stiller and Wilson worked so well because of their friendship; ‘TNG’ is very reminiscent of that. Chuck in a revelation of a performance by Rice and the beautiful cinematography from the 1970s and stuff (see the movie!) - we have a winning formula. There is just something compelling about this movie and you won’t want to miss it.
Cineroom’s Rating: 4 Stars
The Nice Guys is currently showing at the Phoenix Leicester until Thursday 16th June – Certificate 15