The Nice Guys

The Nice Guys ★★★★

As one of Hollywoods highest paid screenwriters, Shane Black has put pen to page on such classic films as Leathal Weapon 1 & 2, and other buddy action films such as The Last Boy scout and the Long Kiss Goodnight, while also cementing himself as a director as well, directing films such as the amazing Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and the profitable, yet not so amazing Iron Man 3. The Nice guys is Shane Black’s best script since Kiss Kiss Bag Bang and in my opinion, his best directorial effort to date.

A real throw back to what I loved about films in during my childhood, the buddy cop genre is still alive and well and it lives through this film.
Only this time, its not a pairing of one comedic flavor of the month and a rap star turned actor for a juvenile romp that satisfies massive built in audiences. Its two distinguished actors both with gravitas and their own earned voices and identities in cinema.

Ryan Gossling and Russell Crowe are of no comparison to any duo who has come before them. They stand as a comedy team on their own and are a more than perfect blend of tough guy, bumbling idiot, and straight up pulp characters. Both actors stand on their own as they reach different parts of their careers. Gossling taking a newer approach at a more slapstick style character than he's ever played before nails it. Crowe, doing what he's done a few times before, but in a new and fresher version of it.

They shine in their own moments as well as in their one-two-punch team up. A few years ago if someone were to ask me who I thought the next super team up of comedic and all around chemistry gold would be, I would have never thought to say Crowe and Gossling, but here we see a new classic buddy action, comedy, mystery noir that has it all and at the root of it, these two stars who work together perfectly. The two characters are great, neither one of them being stereo types of any kind and existing in Black’s created mysterious 1970s Los Angles.

The Nice guys is a blast to watch. To me, its not a perfect film, but definitely a great rebound to what I thought was a disappointing effort to the Iron man and marvel franchise. The film displays many familiar elements of a Shane Black film. Some work and some seem to be just another way to cheat us into thinking that the film has a grounded soul. The cheating element is what Black does often. He feature a young, perhaps early teens female character, usually the daughter of one of our main characters in a very prominent role.

Its here that I feel the film loses focus and comes across as nothing other than Shane Black. I get it that having a daughter at the root of things can display emotion and give Gosling's character more to do, but its not entirely necessary in my opinion. The film is great regardless, but why have the daughter be such a major part of the story when in the end, its really the chemistry between our two leads that makes the film.

I think the script is great and the acting is great. The story and the mystery involved hold enough substance to follow, but its not really the point. The 70's vibe and the way these characters interact is the key. The point is, there's just a bit too much daughter in this film. Yes, the film is adult, full of f bombs, and violence, but things go south when ever we watch these two guys continue to put the 13 year old daughter in jeopardy. Perhaps one scene where the daughter get's involved would have worked fine, but over and over again, one has to think, why the hell is this dude relying so much on his daughter in this caper.

That said, its still such a fun film and such a nice sigh of relief that a film like this comes out in May. Sandwiched between two giant, larger-than-life super hero films, the Nice Guys is perfect. Its charming, really funny, and well written. However, the true spirit of the film is the two leads who clearly carry a fun film full of wonderful character moments. Gossling singlehandedly runs away with this film, but Crowe is perfect as well and its such a joy to see him doing this type of film during his, dare I say, aging career.

Shane Black is at his best with this type of material. Its witty and goofy, but also meaningful and serious when it needs to be. He knows how to write for two characters at once. Not many writers and/or directors can do that quite as well. The film world is full of explosions and super powered characters. Here we get motivations, average joes with spirit, played by two major stars, both displaying amazing abilities to do this sort of film. I don't usually say this, but this film has laid the ground work perfectly for these two characters. I can honestly say, I'd love to see a follow up.

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