Gosling and Crowe A Brilliant Team in Raucous ‘The Nice Guys’

For anyone who’s close to my age (20), the buddy cop formula died out long before I started frequenting the cinema and I never quite understood why it died out. I’m not sure if I’d slot 21/22 Jump Street as the buddy cop film I have in mind, but I was ecstatic to learn there’d be a new detecive movie set in L.A. in the 70’s. Even better, is the fact that you’ve got a terrific director guiding two incredibly strong actors down a rabbit-hole of excessive violence and gut-busting laughter.

Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) isn’t a private investigator, but he’s payed by clients to send messages and perhaps ruffle some feathers. When a private investigator by the name of Holland March (Ryan Gosling) begins searching for a missing Amelia (Margaret Qually), Healy becomes involved as his clients wish for that case to disappear. An adult film star dies, Amelia goes missing, and something fishy is in the L.A. air (and it’s not just the smog).niceguy1

Without giving too much away, The Nice Guys is a helluva good time at the movies and writer/director Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, Iron Man 3)does successfully reignite the old buddy-cop formula with the two most unlikely characters. More than that, Black recreates a time in America with just enough authenticity to have some fun taking liberties with how certain characters behave in this world. The absurdity of the case and the mystery of the adult film industry provides opportunity for the stars to really break free of their gruff, tough guys and indulge in some comical violence.

Having Gosling drop the pretty boy shtick and adopt a set of lesser morals leads his character to some tremendously funny moments, as Gosling proves to be quite a natural. His observational and relaxed demeanor make for what could be the laziest P.I. you’ve seen, but he’s just odd enough to have an idea of what he’s doing and it’s wildly entertaining to watch him struggle physically when he gets in over his head. His wails and whines will have your sides splitting, as Gosling’s less masculine side is put on display. His handle of the character and his interactions are well crafted and timed perfectly, as he never misses a beat, or the opportunity to crack wise.

Russel Crowe, on the other-hand, is reminiscent of his L.A. Confidential character in the sense that he likes serving and protecting people, but he doesn’t have an investigators license and he’s not a cop, so his door-to-door brass knuckle service will have to do for now. He’s someone who could do a lot of good in the world, but he’s also quite the fan of money and his clients pay well. When he’s not beating perverts to a pulp, Crowe is very mild-mannered in his approach to the character and things he passes off nonchalantly bug the hell out of Gosling, which only makes their dynamic more enjoyable. Crowe is most definitely the muscle between the two of them, but what he misses Gosling picks up on and watching them bicker and babble throughout their very serious case makes the black comedy aspect of the film most apparent.

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Perhaps one of the films strongest suits is the fact that it doesn’t care what you think is right or wrong. There’s no playing it safe when you have young actors who’s mouths and actions are as unpredictably silly as Gosling and Crowe’s. Some kids may bad-mouth you, others may discuss their readiness to be in Adult Films. Anything goes in this flick and you’re in for some outrageous laughs and surprises from the younger cast. Angourie Rice, whom plays Gosling’s daughter, is used so well in the film and her contributions not only feel organic for the film you’re watching, but she acts no different than they do and it pays off in the end. She’s got some terrific lines and comebacks for Gosling and the human/empathy aspect that she brings to the group is enough to keep our heroes from getting carried away with their work.

The Nice Guys finds a great balance with its characters and their wacky story, while also staying true to its R-Rating in bloodshed and expletives spoken. Shane Black’s sense of humor and timing is impeccable and his direction is fluid throughout. There are some really impressive shots he’s able to create, as well as more than a few moments of pure film genius that shine through because his cast so expertly carries out his direction. Russel Crowe and Ryan Gosling may seem like an unlikely duo, but as Nice Guys they prove that they came to play and I believe now knowing that they have one of the best films this year. Don’t just walk to the theater, run to see The Nice Guys!

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