Lets start out by pointing out that this was my #1 most anticipated film of the year. I mean above EVERYTHING else that has come out or will come out in 2016, this was my top dog. The one I wanted to see more than anything. How rare it is to get films these days that live up to the hype. This is a genre driven age of superhero blockbusters and Pixar animation billion dollar print machines. So many just don’t live up to the hype but they still rake in hundreds of millions and billions of our money because we know they’re will be action, we love these characters blah blah blah. For me though, i’m a purist. Give me great writing. Give me great performance and the genre doesn’t matter. I like original ideas and its so hard to find in a world where money is the bottom line and studio’s just take the superhero and old school reboot route to make guaranteed money hand over fist. The chances that great fresh concepts see large audiences is fading more and more each passing year. I always have to tip my cap to those that keep creating no matter what. The Nice Guys again, was my most anticipated film of the year, and though we don’t know what the future holds, its my favorite film of the year and I can’t see anything coming down the road in the next 7 months that will top it.
Pornstar Misty Mountains is DEAD!!!? (I’ll pause for any Hobbit jokes…no…none? Ok off we go.) Seemingly well to do private eye, Holland March (Ryan Gosling) is hired by her grandmother to find her since she believes she saw her alive after the announcement of her death. Meanwhile, a scared and on the run young woman Amelia hires Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) a local muscle for hire, to take care of the people that are stalking her. This movie crashes into you fast…literally, and keeps you on the windshield the entire run time.
The two leads find themselves thrust together in a hilarious case of mistaken intent on Jackie’s part. When they meet, side splits ensue as Jackie in his kind but firm way, tries to get Holland to back off of investigating the mysterious Amelia. A haphazard attempt to fight back gets Gosling’s character a spiral fracture and a new best friend. That relationship will take some time to grow though and its hilarious to take that journey.
As I always say, writing is king. This story jumps off the page. Never a dull moment, characters of importance are deep and layered but show something else on the surface. Characters that aren’t important are entertaining and serve their purposes well. Bomer as the overkill hit man, the two Michigan mob henchmen that just can’t catch a break. They are dangerous but ultimately beat down thrice in hilarious encounters with Jackie and Holland. There’s a really nice murder mystery here that uncovers a trail of corruption high up in the Department of Justice…but at its heart this is a character driven film, which really are the best kinds.
Chemistry between Gosling, Crowe is other worldly. I couldn’t get enough. I never clamor for a sequel but I need these two guys again. For me they were the best attempt in 30 years to try and recreate that magic of Lethal Weapon…and of course it took the original creator to do it.
Crowe dives right in as a believable street tough. A neighborhood knock around guy with a heart of gold. He’s not a good guy by any means, and he’s a stickler for keeping your word. That’s brought to the forefront when you see him take payment to help protect Amelia but when she’s a few dollars short you really believe he’s not going to take the job over it. Those moments are left for us to marinate in and feel the awkwardness and bust out laughing in the end. Its crazy to think he’s had this kind of comedic chops in him all these years and its never been broached.
Ryan Gosling brings his best comedic performance to date. You believe this guy is a complete sleaze, going through the motions, always trying to siphon more money out of his clients yet he’s seemingly checked out mentally, he’s an alcoholic and yet he’s a pretty damn good father though clueless when it comes to his daughter, but he pops up and surprises you with his detective skills once he gets that inspiration. Speaking of his daughter, the subsequent chemistry between Holly March (Angourie Rice) and both men is superb. She is a scene stealing machine and for good reason. This is a grown up girl in a young girls body, she’s every bit the good detective her father is, and she is fascinated by how Jackson goes about his business. You can see through her interaction with them individually that this pair is going to make an excellent team if they can get their heads out of their asses. She’s the glue, the heart of the film that keeps the car on the road, the laughs coming strong, and the motivation for the leads to be better while still being themselves, because that’s what makes them special and a perfect pair of Nice Guys.
Films like this are the ones that should be celebrated. Its fresh, original, its got great story, great characters, superb performances, and keeps you invested from first frame to last. I speak often with my industry friends about the dying art of cinema. When something this great comes around, you really hope the support comes with it. Yes there’s an uphill battle with the R rating (which for this film is well deserved. Lots of nudity though appropriate for the story. It does after all start with a dead porn star sprawled out super naked in front of a young boy. Yep…the dream. He was just about to go rub one out to her picture but got the real thing instead! Yikes SPOILERS!
Bottom line. Go watch this movie, support it because Shane Black left it wide open for a sequel, and he’s not stranger to sequels and making them just as good as the original. There’s definitely more to tell in this story but if it gets no love, that magic could be lost forever.