Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Porn Identity: Shane Black's “The Nice Guys” Finishes First

Those who complain that Hollywood no longer makes outstanding movies geared towards adults haven't seen “The Nice Guys.” How does one even describe “The Nice Guys?” It's buddy comedy. It's a film noir. It's a trashy porn-themed crime drama. It's even a cute story about a father and daughter. By my count that's four films for the price of one. And it's worth every penny.

Russell Crowe feels like a far cry from his usual epic action fair here in this story about two private hires who team up to solve the suspicious death of a porn star in seedy 1970s LA. The film is dripping with personality, style, and a deliciously absurd sense of humor. And no wonder because it comes from Shane Black the director of cult favorite “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” and Marvel actioner “Iron Man 3.”

Crowe is joined onscreen by Ryan Gosling who is such popular movie star it's hard to remember how much of a standout actor he really is. He's perfectly cast here as Holland March a boozy private investigator who comes face to face with enforcer Jackson Healy (Crowe) who insists March stop investigating the disappearance of a woman named Amelia. But since this is seedy 1970s LA there are bad guys everywhere and soon they have to reluctantly team up to solve a crazy mystery involving amateur pornography and the auto industry.

This is one of those movies where the script practically drips with originality and yet you see the cinematic nods that have heavily influenced it. Black (and co-writer Anthony Bagarozzi) have crafted such a fun, demented script full of surprises and colorful characters. The direction is solid; Black keeps things moving and you never quite know where things are going. I never lived in LA let alone in the 1970s but the film feels authentic; especially John Ottman's swanky 70s-esque score. The chemistry between the actors, especially Crowe and Gosling, is simply dynamite. And as dark and violent as the film can be there is a surprising sweetness to it in the form of the relationship between Gosling and his onscreen daughter played wonderfully by Angourie Rice.

“The Nice Guys” was truly a delight from start to finish. It has a fun, twisted plot, fantastic performances by actors playing memorable characters, and stylish direction from the always reliable Shane Black. This is the summer movie that adults will love, especially those sick of sequels, reboots, and caped crusaders (though I'm personally not quite sick of any of those).  GRADE: A-

Feature Trailer for The Nice Guys on TrailerAddict.


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