Not one for comedies, but mix comedy with thrillers (or any other genre for that matter) and I’m on board all the way. This is a prime example of one that I was pretty excited for. Ryan Gosling rarely turns in a performance other than just him being him. I mean, don’t get me wrong, he’s a talented actor, and he’s proven it time and time again. But this was so different. He’s dorky. When did he ever play a character like that? Like once. But in any case, I was very interested in his team-up with Russell Crowe, so without further adieu, this is my honest opinion of THE NICE GUYS.
Set during the backdrop of Los Angeles, circa 1977. After the death of adult actress Misty Mountains (Murielle Telio), two private investigators, the violent-prone bad-ass Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) and the squirrely no-nonsense Holland March (Ryan Gosling), along with his plucky daughter Holly (Angourie Rice) get caught up in looking for Amelia (Margaret Qualley), the teenage daughter of Judith Kuttner (Kim Basinger), an official in the Department of Justice, whom may be involved in Misty’s death that may or may not have been foul-play… and may have been the result of a larger conspiracy involving the excessive smog in L.A. and more than a few hired goons out to find young Amelia and kill her for the evidence that they think she has.
We have a winner! Hell yeah, folks, this is one for the year.
Crowe and Gosling are absolutely phenomenal together. Crowe more or less plays the character he’s always known for, but Gosling is so enjoyable as the cowardly drunk and they play incredibly well off of each other. One stand out moment is early on in the film during the second scene that Healy and March share together when Healy pays March a visit at his home. March tries to arm himself with a small revolver, but Healy easily disarms him by way of additional violence. Healy tries to convince March that the remainder of his visit will be civil, to which March agrees. Doesn’t stop him from trying to grab the revolver again… two more times before accepting that Healy’s just not having it. Obviously, there’s more great scenes like that, but I don’t want to give them all away in gear of giving away the absolute best moments.
I do really have to give it up to the young miss Rice as she’s sort of the Penny from the cartoon INSPECTOR GADGET of the movie. Kid characters that are this involved in the action as this really strike a special chord with me because it’s too easy to write kid characters as annoying and useless, to which Holly isn’t. She’s right there deducing the evidence with Gosling and Crowe and genuinely contributes to the problem solving and even has a few fun scenes where she handles herself very well in a tight spot. She’s smart, she’s funny, she’s witty, and Rice is something of a scene stealer. That’s saying a lot because Gosling was the scene stealer when Holly isn’t in the scene. I really hope Rice continues to get great roles like this in the future. Great young actor.
And an absolute BIG shout-out to the great Admiral Anderson, the one and only Arbiter, the living legend himself, Keith mother fuckin’ David! Holy fucking shit, I had no idea he was in this movie, but as soon as his gorgeous mug showed up on screen, I nerdgasmed every damn where! Usually I associate him with mostly voice acting, but any time I see him do a live-action performance, it’s an absolute cinematic treat. His role in this movie is basically a recurring henchman. At first, I was kind of worried that he’d basically be a cameo seeing as his character worked alongside another henchman that would get axed off pretty quickly, but no, he lasts. He gets his ass kicked a lot, but to be fair, he kicks a lot of ass himself. Crowe’s ass no less, and the man even gets to show off his comedy talent in the scenes he’s in. Seriously, he needs a starring role in a movie. I don’t know why this hasn’t happened. Curse you, Hollywood! Seeing him in the movie is worth the price of admission in itself.
The remorseful problem I have with crime thrillers is that it takes a great deal of effort for me to keep up with the intricate plots they tend to have. All the deductions and connections to past plot-points, it gets a little too smart for my own good, but that didn’t make me love this movie any less. At it’s core, it’s a dark comedy, and when done right, these can be some of the best forms of comedy that can be belted out of the genre. And factoring in its thriller edge, it’s so incredibly well-written that I genuinely couldn’t predict anything that would happen in the story.
The story revolves around this teen girl trying to expose her own mother, who is a major player in the large amounts of smog that she and her protest group believe blankets L.A. But because her mom is such a high ranking official, gets murdered by the very man her mother hired to find her, and even having proof of her mother’s part in the conspiracy and delivering it to the authorities on a silver platter isn’t enough to put her away. Yeah, this isn’t a happy story folks. It’s a funny movie, but… a less than triumphant ending. I won’t lie, when Amelia gets murdered, I honestly didn’t expect that to happen in this movie. I knew it was going to happen the moment she ran into John Boy’s (Matt Bomer) car asking for help, but damn… when he shot her right then and there, I didn’t think that would happen in the movie. And the bad guys get away with it. John Boy isn’t ever arrested and Kuttner avoids jail-time even when she herself thought she would.
While I will say that this movie is genuinely great, I can’t say that I “love” it necessarily. The comedy in it wasn’t always laugh-out-loud hilarious to me. Some of the jokes just didn’t impact me like they did with the audience I was watching with. It’s not like I didn’t get the jokes or anything, they’re very clever and well-written, the comedic timing is there, but I guess those jokes weren’t quite as funny to me as they were to other people. This is in no way a negative on the film, but merely an observation as well as a clarification on my feelings toward it.
It’s a must see. A great movie is a great movie and should always be acknowledged as such. I feel like such a twat for almost missing out on this one, but I’m sure as hell glad I didn’t. If you like your comedies dark and cynical, if you love a good Crowe and Gosling performance, if you’re a gamer and love David’s work, this movie is looking for you and you better turn yourself in for a fun ride.
My honest rating: 5/5