The Nice GuysI have always loved buddy movies. I love them especially when the “buddies” in the buddy movie exhibited an immediate (not contrived) natural on screen chemistry connection with one another………a “reportiere” if you will. And whether the two principle lead characters have a mutual agenda or not, are in conflict one another, have similar personalities or not, or are written in either the comedic or dramatic formats or a bit of both, I love the infusion of two seemingly unlikely pairing of actors who not only work well with each other, they do so fabulously well.
The list? Well, Miami Vice, 48 Hours, Lethal Weapon, Thelma and Louise, Rush Hour (the first one only), Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, Bad Boys, Men in Black, Die Hard With A Vengeance and Training Day are just to name a few of legendary buddy films – TV shows that have achieved notoriety, success and lasting fame cutting across the full spectrums of entertainment. So now we see its actors Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling turn at the buddy pairing wheel in their latest effort called “The Nice Guys”.PLOT: Directed by Shane Black. WHO? Oh you remember him from Arnold Schwarzenegger’s iconic science fiction film “Predator”. The then actor Shane Black played “Rick” the U.S. Army Special Forces team member who caught the swinging log to his chest and ribs saying………..”I can make it”. Yeah that Shane who as Director now tells his “Nice Guys” story of two slightly down on their luck guys working at opposite ends of the private investigation spectrum.
Specifically, we find our first “Nice Guy” named Holland March (Ryan Gosling) who is a down-on-his-luck private eye in 1977 Los Angeles. He is a smart, charming and a loving father who is also somewhat dysfunctional and seemingly always in an alcoholic boozed up state who will circumvent his morals for making a buck. The second “Nice Guy” is named Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) who is simply a hired goon enforcer who hurts people for a living using brass-knuckle punches to scare off predators and intimidate his targets. Fate of course initially turns for them to meet (not ideally of course) in an unlikely partnering effort to find a young woman named Amelia (Margaret Qualley) who mysteriously disappears. Healy and March soon learn in excruciating ways that other dangerous people are also looking for Amelia. Their investigation leads to some dark places as anyone else who gets involved in the case seems to wind up dead.
MY REVIEW: “The Nice Guys” is at times smart, slick, sexy and funny. There are also other times it’s just ……………. “Eh”. Meaning? Well, for a movie about the late ’70s that capture exceptionally well all of the atmospherics of the music, psychedelic clothes, drugs usage, culture and of course debauchery sex along with a cinematography that illuminates L.A. with that nostalgic fluorescent brilliant laid back glow, “The Nice Guys” still was at times a bit dull…………..here and there.
Looking back I think it just comes down to the basic plot question; is this enough of a reason for these two guys to be together fighting their way through all of this perpetual aggression both at times at each other and at times at them? My answer, didn’t always seem like it - didn’t always feel like it.
“The Nice Guys” is never short of endless energy, male macho bravado or sexual magnetism. This film has an R&B group “Commodores “Brick House” truck load of it for its 1:58 minutes running time. It also has some moments that were just out right un-expectantly hilarious. There were also times it wasn’t funny even when I was subliminally being told……………”Hey Lester, yeah you with the black sweats on and the soda you snuck into the theater from home, you suppose to laugh now dude, I wrote that especially for you to be funny and make you laugh”…………….Occasionally and pointlessly that and other scenes weren’t funny – I just smiled instead.
“The Nice Guys” is a bit messy and convolutedly at times, but only here and there. A bit dumb and stupid, but only here and there. And at times clever and sexy, but again only here and there.
There’s an old adage that states ‘”nice guys always finish last”. Well Gosling and Crowe prove that is not true, they do have an on screen appeal that is glaringly obvious, so with that I am glad I watched them in “The Nice Guys”. But should you choose to see it as well, just know before going into the theater the plot and the execution of that plot will not be requiring you to use any of your brain synapsis at any point along the way to get to the film’s finish line.