More noise than signal

The Nice Guys

Republished from the show notes of my other site, Fuds on Film.

Holland March (Ryan Gosling) might be one of LA’s best private detectives when he’s not drunk, but there doesn’t seem to be much of a window where he’s not self-medicating with bourbon after the loss of his wife. Which seems a little harsh on his young daughter Holly (Angourie Rice), who’s by default the responsible one in the family.

Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) is a bit like a kissogram, except rather than delivering a message with a smack on the lips, it’s a more generalised, full body smackdown. He’s thinking about getting out of the hired thug game, but not before delivering a beating to Holland warning him off pursing his latest case.

However when Healy is double-crossed, he goes back to Holland and proposes they team up and continue the cast, trying to track down, if you’ll permit some simplification, the reasons why people associated with a recently shot porn film keep showing up dead. Of course, Things Are Not What They Seem, and a number of twists and turns see Healy and Holland up against an unlikely powerful interest not afraid to silence anyone who stands in their way.

Which sounds a bit grim, but as with the similarly themed Shane Black outing Kiss Kiss Bang Bang it’s played for laughs more than drama. Indeed, the short for of this review essentially boils down to “if you liked Kiss Kiss“, and you’re not a monster, of course you liked Kiss Kiss, “then you’ll like The Nice Guys“.

Gosling plays a fine, pathetic loser role, showing just enough of the decent human being he was at one point to keep him likeable despite his actions, and he has a very fine panicked yelp. There’s good chemistry between him and Crowe, who’s also doing a good job of taking a not particularly sympathetic character and engendering sympathy for them.

Crucially, they all have pretty good comic timing, which helps in making this the funniest and most enjoyable film I’ve seen in a cinema since Deadpool. I hear conflicting reports on how easy to follow the narrative is – I didn’t have too much trouble, but to be honest it’s so ludicrous that there’s not much point treating it as more than a loose linking device anyway.

So, some nice action scenes, great performances, sharp dialogue, and overall a very funny buddy cop outing, the likes of which are sadly all-too rare these days. Highly enjoyable, and well worth seeking out.