The Nice Guys


Director: Shane Black.
Screenplay: Shane Black, Anthony Bagarozzi.
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Russell Crowe, Angourie Rice, Kim Basinger, Matt Bomer, Keith David, Beau Knapp, Margaret Qualley, Yaya DaCosta, Lois Smith, Murielle Telio, Gil Gerard, Jack Kilmer, Ty Simpkins.

“Alright, which one of you cock-and-balls wants to make twenty bucks?”

Back in the 80’s and 90’s writer Shane Black was actually quite a prominent player in Hollywood and a big contributor to the hugely successful wave of “buddy-movies”. His writing credits extended toย The Monster Squad, Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout, Last Action Hero and The Long Kiss Goodnight before he decided to take a break from studio pressures. He returned in 2005 for his directorial debut Kiss Kiss Bang Bang before disappearing again, only to resurface with Iron Man 3 a few years ago. For those that grew up on Black’s earlier works (like myself), his latest in The Nice Guys should come as a fond reminder of his action/comedy antics.ย 


In 1970’s Los Angeles, mismatched private investigators Holland March (Ryan Gosling) and Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) find themselves having to work together to search for a missing girl. A girl who might be related to the death a porn star and in some way involved in political corruption.


The Nice Guys certainly isn’t very far from where Shane Black found most of his success. Once again, he uses kidnapping as a plot device while having time to focus on the friendship/partnership from his leading protagonists.

Where Black finds a new niche, though, is in his setting. The decision to set it in the 70’s brings all sorts of new possibilities. We settle in to a murky noir where a porn star has been murdered, a dame has gone missing, corruption is rife and there are two local gumshoes trying to turn a buck.

And it’s in the casting of the gumshoes that Black strikes gold; Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling are a superb duo. The chemistry they share is absolutely infectious and it’s this chemistry that raises the standard of what could have been a very formulaic film.
Crowe plays the straight-man to Gosling’s slapstick, physical comedy and they play off each other brilliantly. It really must be noted just how funny Gosling is, though. I don’t want to take anything away from Crowe as his contribution is solid but Gosling near runs away with the film. The delivery of his dialogue and comic timing is genius. He might have done a few skits on Saturday Night Live and showed his comedic chops in Crazy, Stupid, Love but he excels himself here.


What lets Black down, though, is when he veers away from the comic chemistry of his stars and allows a muddled, cartoonish action segment to take over. It’s around this point that the story lacks coherence and without the great work of Crowe and Gosling, the film wouldn’t quite be as entertaining as it is.


To be fair to Black, he attempts to shuffle quite a bit in his narrative. A convoluted plot with action and comedy isn’t easy to pull off but, for the most part, he handles it well. Even if the film gets a little overly complex and suffocates under it’s own weight. Some supporting characters come and go and the likes of Kim Basinger’s character doesn’t contribute very much – which is probably a good thing considering her performance is wooden and as constricted as her Botox. Kudos to young Angourie Rice, though. Her contribution gives the two leads a run for their money and for such a young actress, she shows a lot of promise.


A stylish and ambitious near miss. But it’s one that has an undeniable charm and plenty of entertainment value. Definitely worth seeing for it’s snappy dialogue and it’s even snappier leading actors.


Mark Walker

Trivia: The project was initially proposed as a TV series but was re-tooled as a film after the pilot seemed to be going nowhere.

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49 Responses to “The Nice Guys”

  1. A formulaic film with some great chemistry and overall, fun entertainment. You’ve nailed it, Mark!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice review Mark. I really enjoyed this picture, though I certainly agree with you that the plot isn’t incredibly substantive. The movie really holds its own with the chemistry between Crowe and Gosling and Rice really shines as well. Certainly The Nice Guys isn’t in the same league as Lebowski, The Long Goodbye, or Inherent Vice when it comes to Chandler riffing, but I think it’s pretty solid.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks again, man! It was a lot fun. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen The Long Goodbye but it’s on my revisit list and I totally agree about Lebowski and Vice. It’s not in the same league. The plot became a bit incoherent to me after a while but Crowe and, particularly, Gosling really delivered.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What Cindy said, Mark. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ended up missing this one at the cinema but I have heard a lot of good things about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha! We must have crossed paths at the same time, man. I was just on your blog reading your “Take Two”. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Decent flick this one, man. The plot loses its way eventually but the leads are a great double-act.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I missed this in cinemas, but it sounds hysterical. And good to see you back Mark.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ah yes, you remind me I have yet to see this one. I have tempered expectations, but from this I bet I’ll still enjoy it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Agreed, Mr M – quite good fun and Gosling was largely responsible for that (with Crowe making a pretty good straight man). Not quite up there with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang but I enjoyed it.

    Like

    • I’d really need to see Kiss Kiss again before making that call but this really reminded me of Black’s buddy-movie talents of the past. I grew up on shit like this, man. It was a enjoyable piece of nostalgia. Crowe’s straight-man was great but Gosling genuinely had me laughing out loud. It was a quality comedy performance and few (if any) have me laugh as much as he did in this. My estimation of Gosling really hasn’t subsided in years. He’s always full of surprises.

      Like

      • He is proving to be more versatile than the old notion of him having a blank face suggested! Considering he has been on the scene for 10 years or so now he has made some really good films; Half Nelson…Drive…the ones with Derek Cianfrance I liked too.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I still struggle to see why some don’t take to Gosling. I think he’s a fabulous actor. The Cianfrance films are superb and he delivers two great performances in those. With The Nice Guys, he’s proven he’s very adept at comedy and even though he done a very scaled down performance in Drive, it was actually a masterclass in restraint. Half Nelson is probably still his best for me, though. An worthy Oscar nomination in my opinion.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh and KKBB I consider to be the high watermark of Black’s buddy comedies; I’ve seen it a few times now and it has me in stitches. That said it is a long time since I watched The Last Boy Scout, which I liked as a teenager. Not sure how that one holds up!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I was probably a teenager the last time I seen The Last Boy Scout too. I remember loving it at the time, though. I really should check out KKBB again. I recall liking but one I could have taken or leaven. It’d be interesting to see that one again.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Lot of fun. Really good little buddy comedy that does get a bit carried away with itself here and there but man I’d long for more films like this this summer. Been a pretty naff year in the summer department

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not a big summer movies fan, man. I don’t care much for superheroes so it’s nice that something like this comes along. It reminded me of how much o used to enjoy Shane Black’s stuff and Gosling was an absolute riot.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Gosling was gold!

        Like

      • Wasn’t he just?! I’m starting to think that there’s really nothing he can’t turn his hand to. He’s been very consistent in so many roles over the years but comedy (at this level) was one I hadn’t pegged him for. He was outstandingly good!

        Liked by 1 person

      • It’s also a really compelling like, real-life realization of potential if you consider his directorial attempt with Lost River (some parts I did like, albeit) and then his performance in this. It’s just a night-and-day difference

        Liked by 1 person

      • Couldn’t agree more, man. I was actually thinking of revisiting Lost River. I enjoyed parts of it myself but, overall, it didn’t work out. I’m hoping a revisit might make me see more. Either way, it was a very brave endeavour from Gosling. Let’s put it this way, he never played it safe in his writing/directorial debut and I admire that. He’s full of surprises!

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I overlooked this movie. The chemistry between Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe sounds like it’s worth a look. Good review.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Great review! I have been quite excited for this, and I hope to catch it soon. Looks like it was a case of close, but no cigar for you. Will see how it fares when I finally get to it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Very much a close one, Zoรซ. I’m not an action fan so when that came around, I lost interest a bit and the story lost its way as well. But the comedy is side-splitting on occasion and Gosling and Crowe are worth the time alone.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. This was the last movie I saw in the theatre before my baby was born and I had a blast with it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good to hear, Abbie. Also great to hear that you’ve become a mother. Congratulations!!…

      Although, through my own experience, it’ll probably be a while before you can enjoy going to the cinema again ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Like

  12. I think I liked this a bit more than you did, though I’d agree that the mystery at the center of the film doesn’t work perfectly. Also I find the end tried to have that sense of film noir cynicism that didn’t really feel earned.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’d totally agree on those points PG. The mystery lost it’s way for me too. In fact, there was a moment I had to question what was going on. Not that it was overly confusing but that it just got messy. Love the the chemistry between the leads, though. It’s hard to bottle that kind of chemistry. Thanks for piping in, man. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Like

  13. A fair review I think. I liked it a bit more that you, but this is spot on: “itโ€™s this chemistry that raises the standard of what could have been a very formulaic film.”

    And those action scenes were kinda cartoonish weren’t they? Not only that but they were shot with your traditional can’t-tell-who-is-hitting-who bullshit camera-work. These directors need to be force-fed The Raid so they can shoot action scenes properly!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I wasn’t all that keen on the action stuff. It seemed messy to me and I kinda lost what was going on. It was Gosling and Crowe that really raised the bar on this one.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yep. Their chemistry was off the charts.

        But those fight scenes were truly atrocious – why does every freaking film have such horrid camerawork during close-combat scenes? It seems like a freaking staple of the genre, and this was no different, the fight scenes were shot so bad I had no idea who was who.

        I said this to someone else, or in a review somewhere – these directors need to watch The Raid and learn how to shoot these scenes effectively, which means the actors need to train properly, so it all looks good and can be shot from a distance.

        These action scenes look so choppy all the time because I’m guessing the actors aren’t actually pulling off these moves 100%, its all done in the editing room.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Yeah, I hear you man. You can definitely tell the difference with actors that have learned the choreography. The Raid is definitely one and Keanu Reeves in The Matrix was very convincing because he learned the moves but it’s a totally cheap gimmick to rely on editing. And it shows here.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes yes and yes. Reeves was awesome in The Matrix, that’s a very good example. The fight scenes in that movie are fantastic!! Ahhh damn you now I want to see it again. So many movies to watch!

        Liked by 2 people

      • Haha! Revisiting a little John Woo is always good for the action set-pieces too. Particular his earlier Hong-Kong stuff with Chow Yun Fat.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m not sure if I’ve even seen a John Woo movie! =/

        Liked by 2 people

      • Aww man! Check out The Killer and Hard Boiled. Great action spectacles. Wildly over the top but if you liked The Raid then you should like them. The Raid actually stole John Woo’s style. Woo ended up in Hollywood eventually with Broken Arrow and Face/Off.

        Liked by 2 people

      • He did Face/Off?? Man I love that movie! The ultimate guilty pleasure, its been so long since I watched it, but I’ve seen it maaany times. Gotta love Nic Cage

        I’ll def add those to my watch-list man. If they are anything like The Raid I’m in

        Liked by 3 people

      • I think you’ll like them. It’s been years since I’ve seen them and not exactly sure how dated they look now but if my memory serves they should be ok. Top drawer Asian actioners.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Still have yet to see this; missed it on the big screen. Your splendid review pretty much sums up what I’ve heard – solid, but not as good as it could have been.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Not seen it but great review. Awesome bit of trivia too haha.

    Liked by 2 people

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