Don't you just hate it when you have successfully managed to nick one of your dad's stick mags, snuck back to your bedroom and your plans for a spot of quiet self-pleasure are scuppered when a car crashes through the house? The night is saved somewhat though when you go outside to discover that the naked dying woman who was thrown from the car just happens to be porn star Misty Mountains – the very same porn star that you were about to enjoy having a tug over in said magazine.
It's an intriguing, action-packed and quite amusing opening to a film where the central plot does indeed involve dead and missing porn stars, a case that sees thug-for-hire Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) teaming up with hard-drinking private investigator Holland March (Ryan Gosling). Their partnership doesn't get off to a good start though when Healy breaks March's arm, a job he's been sent to do by someone associated with Amelia, a missing girl that March has been hired to find. Long story short, the pair tem up and find themselves up to their eyeballs in kidnappings, murders, suicides, sleaze, glamourous parties, corruption, conspiracies, porn stars, the Mafia and bad '70s clothing.
If you like the films of Shane Black – he's the man behind the Lethal Weapons, The Last Boy Scout, The Long Kiss Goodnight, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Iron Man 3, and he was once the hightest-paid scripwriter in Hollywood – then you will love The Nice Guys. The film is set in Los Angeles, in 1977, and is a perfect mix of buddy-cop comedy and film noir. Crowe and Gosling are a perfect pariing, playing off each other like a two buddies who've known each other all their lives, and having far too much fun with the ultra-sharp script by Black and Anthony Bagarozzi, a script that's packed with more one-liners than a cocaine convention in Columbia.
Crowe seems to be finally embracing his middle age and going with it, and his grizzled, shabby tough-guy-with-a-heart fits him like a glove. The younger (and yes, better looking) Gosling also seems to be having a blast with this hard-drinking, clumsy, disheveled private dick, and his comic timing here is second to none (seriosuly, this man needs to do more comedies). The two of them work so beautifully together, with a boisterous banter-filled bravado that reminds you of the great double acts such as Hope and Crosby in the classic Road To... films, or even Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in the wonderful Lethal Weapon movies.
But as good as Gosling and Crowe are, they are almost outshone by Aussie newcomer Angourie Rice as March’s young teenage daughter, Holly. She's the real brains of the outfit, and gives an ultra-smart and smart-aleck performance reminiscent of a young Chloe Moretz (and good old Uncle Shane has given her all the best lines). Keep your eyes on this girl, because she's gloing places.
It's almost impossible to not have a good time while watching The Nice Guys. Here you've got two guys who are not really known for their comic performances bringing their absolute A-game funny; a maze-like plot that is actually not impossible to follow, and ends up (kinda) making sense; and a support cast with enough surprising turns to make you sit up and take notice. It's a film filled with bombast, boobs, bullets, brawls, booze, blood, bombs and grade-A bastards, and is probably one of the funniest films you are going to see this year. If this is the future of (Shane) Black comedy, then bring it on...