Screen Gems review: "The Nice Guys"

Courtesy: Warner Bros.

May 20, 2016
"The Nice Guys"
Warner Bros.
Rated R for violence, sexuality, nudity, language and brief drug use

Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling team up as an unlikely pair of private investigators in 1977 Los Angeles. Holland March (Gosling) is looking into the death of a famous adult film star named Misty Mountains. The clues lead him to a confrontation with Jackson Healey (Crowe). The men have very different methods, which results in Healy breaking March's arm. But they have to combine forces when a young girl named Amelia (Margaret Qualley) disappears. March wants to find her because he thinks she's the key to his investigation into the adult film star's death, while Healey has been hired by Amelia to keep her hidden.

Now facing two mysteries, the men have to take on a bevy of bad guys as they unravel what looks to be a government conspiracy.

"The Nice Guys" is a thick, complicated and convoluted movie. Written by Shane Black and Anthony Bagarozzi with Black directing, it twists and turns as March and Healey encounter a variety of goons, thugs and roadblocks in the course of their investigation. The tone and look of the film takes you back to a time in Hollywood when mismatched buddy cop movies were being released just about every week. "The Nice Guys" has the feel of a "Lethal Weapon" (for which Black wrote the screenplay) or "Red Heat," but since it's a modern movie it goes much further in violence and sex than those films ever could. It also benefts from and trades on the star power and personalities of its leading men. Crowe is pretty much as you would expect him to be while Gosling ratchets up his normally laid back persona into a frenetic and sometimes manic character.

Black's movies tend to be divisive and polarizing. It seems people either love his work or despise it. There is very little middle ground with his audiences and this movie is definitely the same kind of story. It's a visual feast with sight gags galore and the feel of late 70s L.A. but there are plot holes and nonsensical moments which leave you scratching your head.

With over-the-top violence and some very funny scenes, "The Nice Guys" prove they are anything but nice in an entertaining way. But this story will not be everyone's cup of tea. Despite the chemistry of its stars and the wackiness of its storyline, not everyone will buy into what Black is selling here.

On my rating scale, "The Nice Guys" earns TWO DIAMONDS

FOUR DIAMONDS=A fantastic movie! A must see!
THREE DIAMONDS=A good movie with minor flaws.
TWO DIAMONDS=An average movie with some entertaining scenes or performances.
ONE DIAMOND=A very poor movie with few entertaining scenes or performances.
LUMP OF COAL=Skip it, it's just plain awful.

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