OK, I am sure there are many who would point out, rightfully, that The Nice Guys isn’t much of a geek movie. And they’d possibly be right.
But I don’t care. Here’s a SPOILER FREE review anyway.
I really dig me some Shane Black. The man has a singular talent of doing these action comedies with a mismatched pair of guys (usually guys) being forced to save the day together, having some colorful conversations while investigating whatever mess they happen to be in. That could count for movies that he’s just scripted (most of the Lethal Weapon movies) or the ones where he has since moved behind the camera (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Iron Man 3 whenever Tony and Rhodey were together). And the movie will be inexplicably set around Christmas.
Well, The Nice Guys seems to end around Christmas, but that’s about it. And even then, if you don’t spot the guy dressed like Santa, you won’t see it. But the rest of the Shane Black stuff holds true.
Russell Crowe, looking rather doughy, stars as Jackson Healy, an unlicensed PI who mostly acts as hired muscle for people with problems. He’s a rather genial thug, all told. On the opposite side of things is Ryan Gosling as Holland March, a widower licensed PI with a drinking problem and no sense of smell. While Healy is more than capable of laying down a beating when necessary, March isn’t really good for that sort of thing as he’s rather clumsy and cowardly.
Things take off when the two are both working more or less the same case from different sides. After an initial confrontation, the two team up to find a missing girl, a missing porno movie with some secrets a major American corporation wants to stay secret, vicious hit men, and a high ranking member of the Justice Department (Crowe’s old L.A. Confidential co-star Kim Bassinger). Along the way the two bicker, prove to have skills the complement each other, and need to deal with a perennial tagalong in the form of March’s young daughter Holly (Angourie Rice).
This movie is just a ton of fun. Far from Black’s directorial best (that’d probably be Kiss Kiss Bang Bang), the movie manages to entertain in its generic 1970s setting. Yeah, it says a specific year, but very little about the movie says it couldn’t be just any random year in that decade.
The film isn’t perfect. Bassinger’s face looks like it can barely move these days, and the actual secret in the movie is never actually revealed. As such, I’m giving it nine out of ten swindled old ladies.