Movie #231 2020: The Nice Guys (2016)

Comedy! Without romance! Yes, it’s time to break out of the Richard Curtis cycle… for now.

The Nice Guys is a 2016 private detective action comedy from director Shane Black – the guy who brought you highly divisive blockbuster Iron Man 3. Set in 1970s Los Angeles, we follow a private eye (Ryan Gosling) who is intent on investigating the apparent suicide of an adult film star. He recruits the aid of Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) – an ex-detective who is not keen to help at first – in order to solve what is going on, and they both get much more than they bargained for.

The brilliance of the casting here is blatant from the first line of dialogue. Using two typically ‘serious’ actors in Crowe and Gosling only makes the jokes land even better, as this is definitely not the type of film you usually see from these two men. However, Russell Crowe and Angourie Rice (who plays Gosling’s daughter in this) have more on-screen chemistry than Crowe and Ryan Gosling, which is probably a bit of a fail and not what the director was going for. For me though, that was actually a welcome surprise that I didn’t expect, and the scenes with Jackson and Rice’s character, Holly, actually ended up being the most charming and humorous of the lot.

Despite that, Gosling has some of the funniest lines in this. The script is clever, and whilst it does include some physical comedy (Gosling falling off the balcony and rolling down a seemingly endless hill for example) it doesn’t solely rely on it for humour. I will admit, not every gag is as funny as the last, and there were some jokes that landed on deaf ears in our household, but I can imagine that West Coast Americans in particular will have found this the funniest thing since the Marx Brothers.

Movies set in the 70s are always great because of the costumes/set design and The Nice Guys is no exception. Both of these things are off the scale perfect in this, and I always find the choice to set a film in the not too distant past really fun to watch. The hideously patterned brown and orange decor makes for a feast for the eyes, and shots of seventies LA came part and parcel with some excellent cinematography decisions.

Like so many films do when your attention span only lasts an hour at the best of times, The Nice Guys unfortunately does drag on for a bit too long. The film’s plot is also absolutely all over the bastard place, with way too many turns and subplots to get a proper grip on, but it’s still a pretty fun movie and it all makes sense by the end. (That’s if you can get to the end without switching off mentally, of course.)

If there’s one take away I had from this movie it’s this: what. an. amazing. soundtrack. It starts with the absolute banger that is The Temptations‘ Papa Was a Rolling Stone, and then the soundtrack is consistently excellent from there. For context, here’s a sample of just five other tracks from the movie that are bound to give you only the most intense of eargasms:

  1. September – Earth, Wind & Fire
  2. Love and Happiness – Al Green
  3. Jive Talkin’ – The Bee Gees
  4. Play That Funky Music – Wild Cherry
  5. Rock and Roll All Nite – KISS

If that’s not enough to get you to watch this movie, then I don’t know what is.

On the whole, this is not a film that I’ll be shouting from the rooftops to force everyone to view it. But it is an interesting, different type of comedy that I will give people a subtle nudge towards.

The Nice Guys is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video in the UK.

TQR Category Ratings:

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