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The Nice Guys Movie Review

The Nice Guys: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo pack cover art
The Nice Guys is now available on home video. Read our review of the Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo.

The Nice Guys (2016) movie poster The Nice Guys

Theatrical Release: May 20, 2016 / Running Time: 116 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Shane Black / Writers: Shane Black, Anthony Bagarozzi

Cast: Russell Crowe (Jackson Healy), Ryan Gosling (Holland March), Angourie Rice (Holly March), Matt Bomer (John Boy), Margaret Qualley (Amelia Kuttner), Yaya Dacosta (Tally), Keith David (Older Guy), Beau Knapp (Blueface), Lois Smith (Mrs. Glenn), Murielle Telio (Misty Mountains), Gil Gerard (Bergen Paulsen), Daisy Tahan (Jessica), Kim Basinger (Judith Kuttner), Jack Kilmer (Chet), Lance Valentine Butler (Kid on Bike), Ty Simpkins (Bobby), Hannibal Buress (voice of Bumble)

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After getting a taste of blockbuster superherodom on Iron Man 3, longtime screenwriter
Shane Black returns to less lucrative action-comedy filmmaking on The Nice Guys, his third film as director. Written by Black and newcomer Anthony Bagarozzi, Nice Guys is set in 1977 Los Angeles and feels a lot like Lethal Weapon, the film that launched Black's screenwriting career.

Stout for-hire enforcer Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) crosses paths with widowed single dad private eye Holland March (Ryan Gosling). Initially, Healy meets March on business, warning him to stay away from his client, an afraid young woman named Amelia (Margaret Qualley), whom March has been hired to find as a missing person. In Healy's line of work, "warning" includes a broken arm. Soon thereafter, the two very different men, hard-hitting Healy and heavy-drinking March, team up to find Amelia and protect her from those who are out to get her.

Holland March (Ryan Gosling) and Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) question someone with two teenaged girls between them in "The Nice Guys."

Amelia, the daughter of L.A.'s chief prosecutor (a brief Kim Basinger), has gotten mixed up with some shady types after making an "experimental" film (i.e. a porno). Now, hardened hitmen are out to kill her and others she has dealt with as well as eliminating the film she made.

Nice Guys is driven by a suitable blend of plot and character. It gives us plenty of both, as it follows Healy and March to a lavish party in the hills where partially naked girls dance and bend over to be mistaken for tables, Earth, Wind & Fire plays "September", and March's 13-year-old daughter Holly (Angourie Rice) sneaks in to do some sleuthing of her own and becomes the kind of undersized third wheel Joe Pesci was in Lethal Weapon 3 (which Black did not write).

The film has fun with the music, fashions, and cars of the period setting, but it never sends up the '70s or settles for spoofing it. That is simply the backdrop for a sharply-written buddy comedy, the likes of which we haven't seen in quite a while.

Could March (Ryan Gosling) and Healy (Russell Crowe) be the new Riggs and Murtaugh? Only time and the box office numbers will tell.

Crowe perhaps has never been this easygoing or likable before. For once, he seems to be having fun, not just exorcising demons or convincing you he's a great actor. Quite a bit better is Gosling, whose comedy chops have been noticed before but rarely showcased to this extent. Gosling's humorous performance is exactly the kind of thing that should, but probably won't,
feature in the Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical category at next year's Golden Globes. I highly doubt we'll see five worthier turns in genuine comedies over the next seven months.

Nice Guys doesn't blow you away with twists or leave you thinking. It simply entertains consistently and without lapse for close to two full hours. Judging from the high regard with which Black's directorial debut, 2005's Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, is held, this is the kind of movie on which he thrives, a crime caper with as much humor as action that succeeds equally at both tasks.

Whether Nice Guys finds an audience, opening across from Neighbors 2 and The Angry Birds Movie with $300+ million behemoths Captain America: Civil War and The Jungle Book still going strong, remains to be seen. But I know that critics will like the film and so too should most who see it. If the numbers are strong and Black and the stars are game (a lot of ifs, I know), there could be some sequel potential here.

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Related Reviews:
Written and Directed by Shane Black: Iron Man 3
Ryan Gosling: Drive The Big Short Crazy, Stupid, Love. Blue Valentine Gangster Squad
Russell Crowe: The Water Diviner Virtuosity Noah Winter's Tale The Insider Man of Steel
Now in Theaters: Money Monster Captain America: Civil War Keanu The Jungle Book
Buddy Comedies: Hot Fuzz Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Ride Along The Other Guys Planes, Trains & Automobiles
1970s: Inherent Vice Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy Space Station 76 Semi-Pro

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Reviewed May 20, 2016.

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