THE MOVIE GUY: ‘The Nice Guys’ is really nice, guys

Published 11:40 pm Thursday, May 19, 2016

Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe are an unlikely pairing in the new movie, “The Nice Guys,” but their oil-and-water personalities end up gelling nicely in this movie with an entertaining mix of action and humor.

Gosling plays Holland March, a hapless private investigator working in 1970s Los Angeles. He’s been hired to find a missing woman, but the woman (Margaret Qualley) turns around and hires another private eye, Jackson Healy (Crowe) to scare March off her case.

These two men start off as enemies but ultimately team up when they realize that everyone from the Department of Justice to auto industry bigwigs and various pornographers are also interested in finding the young woman. It makes for an intriguing mystery, although the mechanics of the plot aren’t really what makes “The Nice Guys” so much fun to watch.

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Credit writer/director Shane Black for crafting a superb screenplay. There are plenty of action sequences to keep your adrenaline pumping, but also ample comedic moments that will plaster a goofy grin on your face. Who knew that Gosling was so adept at taking pratfalls? Who knew that Crowe was so good at playing the straight man? Who knew that these guys would be so much fun to watch?

Angourie Rice is also a lot of fun to watch here, playing March’s young daughter, Holly. This young actress nearly steals the show at times, as she turns out to be a mini-Nancy Drew who’s far more adept at solving the case than her father. As much as this is a superb buddy cop movie, it wouldn’t be as much fun without this adolescent third wheel tagging along on the adventure.

More credit is due to the production design team and the cinematographers. This is a love letter to the late ‘70s, and the filmmakers have created an unapologetically kitschy playground for the cast to inhabit. The film is over-stuffed with fun period detail and it’s all shot lovingly with the intention of capturing the fading beauty of a smoggy California sunset.

This film is a triumph of craftsmanship more than an artistic success. The ideas in the police procedural aren’t big or important, but they are certainly very entertaining. The cast was obviously having a ball while making the movie, and that sense of fun permeates every frame. The production design whisks you back in time and the screenplay provides just enough of a mystery plot to keep everybody interested in the investigation. Throw in a killer soundtrack full of pop hits from the era and you have an unexpected, delightful cinematic surprise.

Movie reviews by Sean, “The Movie Guy,” are published bi-weekly in “The Port Arthur News” and seen weekly on KFDM and KBTV. Sean welcomes your comments via email at