Review by Gilberto Campa
One of the biggest complaints/criticisms in the film industry from moviegoers is the so called lack of originality with the stories that are told nowadays. With the amount of IP and the types of stories that are being retold and rebooted, it’s difficult to create something truly original that makes an impact, while also feeling fresh. Once in a while a movie comes along that goes against everything that I mentioned beforehand, and that’s what makes “The Nice Guys” a true gem that should have been more successful than it was. The movie was released in 2016 and was both written and directed by Shane Black who brought his melancholic and edgy style to the entire project.
Just like his previous works (The Lethal Weapon series, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, The Last Action Hero, etc.) the heart of Shane’s film’s revolve around excellent character work and witty dialogue. In “The Nice Guys” you have two people who couldn’t be more on the opposite spectrum, in many ways. First you have Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) who is very rough on the edges and has a very tough relationship with his ex-wife that is played for laughs. He is a guy who doesn’t take crap from anyone and is the best at what he does being a muscle for hire, with a little bit of a dark side. Then there’s Holland March (Ryan Gosling) who is the luckiest, funniest and most eccentric Private Eye you will see in these kinds of films, who isn’t your typical detective. The way that the movie makes you connect with these two guys based off their flaws (not being to smell anything for example in the case of March) works really well. The humor in the film is done in a smart way and doesn’t feel forced or out of place, it elevates the levity of some scenes and keeps you invested in these guys. There are many “Laugh Out Loud” moments in the movie that some comedies wish they could hit. It just helps to emphasize the balancing act that the movie presents and by the end truly executes in a great way.
The banter and the situations that are presented and dealt with in this movie come very naturally and make the humor flow very well in some of the most serious situations. Crowe and Gosling aren’t the first names that come to mind for this kind of movie, but after watching it you won’t want anyone else in these roles. Even though Gosling performed amazingly in “La La Land” later that same year, its his performance in “The Nice Guys” that shows a different side of him and showcases the range at where he can perform. While at the same time for Crowe, this was some of the best work that he had done in years up to this point. The plot isn’t convoluted and is very easy to follow, much of the time will be spent admiring the beautiful scenery and the way that they were able to capture and present Los Angeles in the late 1970’s (despite it being filmed mostly in Atlanta) both the good and the bad.
The real stars of the movie though are the young women who steal the show in Angourie Rice (Holly March) & Margaret Qualley (Amelia Kutner). Angourie carries her own in many scenes and is an important part of the story in addition to the other characters. Unlike other younger characters in these kinds of movies she isn’t helpless, isn’t afraid to defend herself, and doesn’t take crap from anyone, most importantly she has a tremendous effect on the two main characters towards the end. The relationship she has with her father (Gosling) is done so well and is very unique, especially with the way they communicate (Don’t say and stuff). Amelia Kutner also carries her own as the person everyone is looking for in the movie and has a very commanding presence. It’s no surprise that she has gone on to even more special projects like 2019’s Once Upon a Time In Hollywood. Amongst many critics “The Nice Guys” is one of the best movies from the last decade and is one that many people can enjoy. It is incredibly re-watchable, funny, witty, smart and is full of great performance. If you haven’t had a chance to watch it, I can’t recommend it enough. So take a break from your 100th re-watch of The Office or Friends and give this movie a watch.
The Verdict: 5/5 Stars