Let’s go back to a time when the mustaches were rocking and Star Wars just came out. Welcome to 1977 LA. This is The Nice Guys.
The Nice Guys is directed by Shane Black and stars Russell Crowe as Jackson Healy and Ryan Gosling as Holland March. The story follows Jackson Healy as a down-on-his-luck enforcer and his team up with Holland March, dubbed “the world’s worst detective” by his teenage daughter Holly, as they investigate a missing girl. In their search, they discover her disappearance connects to the death of a porn star.
The Nice Guys reminded me of Guardians of the Galaxy, but within the framework of a neo-noir. This is essentially the origin story of a long-lasting partnership, one that Shane Black balances really well. This happens on multiple levels throughout the film. Here we go:
Since its inception, the noir genre is a very dark and gritty genre, focusing on the crimes of a city swathed in low-key lighting. Even as noir has evolved into neo-noirs, these elements have been recirculated. The Nice Guys fits into this category, although rather than keep a straight face, it puts it in a comedic angle. Even with the comedy, it veers away from parody territory. The noir elements remain the star, establishing the plot and tone, like with the voiceover narration introducing both Healy and Marsh in the beginning of the film and the crazy plot twists in seedy 70’s LA. However, the comedic elements spice The Nice Guys, allowing for a play of expectations. When you think they will go towards an expected outcome, they do an about face to great comedic effect.
Let’s talk about the acting in this, because it was another great example of balancing. Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling make a great pair. Crowe is not my favorite actor out there, but this role really fit for him. He played the understated enforcer that compliments well with Gosling’s inept detective. While everyone as of now is talking about Gosling in La La Land (another GREAT performance), I would like to point out how great he is here. His character is very layered, but not in a traumatic way. In fact, his big tragedy can be seen in a comedic light. He’s just a guy who’s trying to be a cool detective but is just struggling so hard with the detective part.
Healy and March are far from the suave, intimidating detectives of the 1970s, like Dirty Harry. Which is why I have to talk about Holland March’s teenage daughter Holly, played by Angourie Rice. Honestly I don’t understand why she isn’t on the posters because she did half the detective work for them. Holly complements Healy and March with her own skills. For example, when the three are investigating at a party, Holly is the only one who appears to gain any salvageable information, while our protagonists are distracted by other events. When the three get together for the climax, they just click together, forming a unique, crimefighting family.
This movie also looked beautiful too. The sets and the costumes were incredible. Some films that choose to be set in the past can be too gaudy, trying to overcompensate. It never felt that way in The Nice Guys. Rather, I felt that the 1970’s backdrop made the film’s world seem more unique and vibrant. It was a character in and of itself, even if it was in the background, it accentuated the story and the characters living in it.
The Nice Guys is criminally underrated, barely making back its budget in the box office. This movie is a treat to watch, both as a comedy and a detective story. I was laughing so much through it. Please Please Please go see this movie. If you are complaining about a lack of original stories in Hollywood, go watch this. If you want to laugh, go see this. It is worth it. I give The Nice Guys an A+.
Have you seen The Nice Guys? What did you think? What should I look into next? Comment below!