'The Nice Guys' review: Gosling, Crowe prove why buddy cop movies are so much fun
The Nice Guys pretty much serves as a checklist of Buddy Cop clichés.
Writer director Shane Black has been previously responsible for the first two Lethal Weapon movies, and the uproarious Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. With his new film The Nice Guys, Black demonstrates with much panache that there can never ever be such a thing as too many buddy cop comedies.
Ryan Gosling plays Holland, a struggling and clumsy private eye affectionately referred to by his daughter as ‘the worst detective in the world’. Russell Crowe plays Jackson Healy, who is also in the business of following people, but also into roughing them up in exchange for money from wealthy clients.
When Holland is contacted by an old woman who claims she saw her dead niece alive, he connects this case to another missing woman named Amelia (Margaret Qualley). Things take a turn when he gets to know that Amelia pays Jackson to keep Holland away from her. As Holland and Jackson crash into each other they’re hurled into the hilariously debauched world of Hollywood and many scumbags connected to it.
As you can guess by the plot, the rules of the buddy cop genre remain exactly the same – two mismatched cops forcibly teaming up to solve one unsolvable case, a few half naked ladies, bizarre coincidences, a tinge of meta Hollywood commentary and a glorious action packed finale with a solid dose of rib tickling humor. The Nice Guys has every single one of those elements and pretty much serves as a checklist of Buddy Cop clichés. The magic is in the execution.
Black’s grasp on comic timing is as impeccable as ever. The filmmaker milks Gosling’s good-looking moron personality, and Crowe’s impatient grump traits beyond superficial levels. The smartass lines come thick and fast and the plot moves at such a breakneck pace it’s hard to keep up at times. There’s no room for predictability either – you’ll seldom have any idea what is going to happen next. The 70’s setting also adds a refreshing sheen to the film, and the pornography boom during the era provides a nice salty layer to the already cooky storytelling.
What really works is the balance between the misogynist and the misandrist humour. Nothing is spared – everything is made fun of and you just coast along with the insult comedy buoyed by script with a heart of gold.
The uncorrupted anchor in the movie is, surprisingly, Holland’s 13-year-old daughter who seems to be way more mature than the two dolts. The reveal of the mystery is so ridiculous you can’t help but think there could be people out there stupid enough to actually do that kind of thing. There’s plenty of ludicrous blood splattering violence as well to keep the genre nuts entertained.
Ultimately The Nice Guys is a reminder that smaller, old school style of filmmaking is a good antidote to the postmodern big budget cinema culture. It’s the kind of film that is tailor made for both those who enjoyed the Lethal Weapon movies and for newcomers who will eventually jog back on Black’s filmography and check out his earlier movies.
Without the kinetic energy of Robert Downey Jr it’s definitely not an all time classic like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang but it’s still a crazy amount of fun. With such quality cinema out in theaters it’s silly to pass on an opportunity to get tickets. The only difficult thing here is the two year wait for Black’s next film, a sequel to the legendary Predator.
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