Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe team up for a delightful 70’s mystery.
Holland March (Ryan Gosling) is a single parent and a Private Investigator. He makes a living by taking up cases for elderly people who’ve pretty much lost their marbles. One of his clients, Mrs. Glenn (Lois Smith), has hired him to find her niece, a porn star that goes by the stage name “Misty Mountains”. Misty died in a car crash and her death was highly publicized, so Holland is understandably skeptical of the claim. He realizes that a missing girl named Amelia Kutner (Margaret Qualley) is likely the girl that Mrs. Glenn saw and starts to find her. The problem is that Amelia isn’t wild about a strange guy following her and hires professional tough guy Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) to beat Holland up and get him to stay away from her. After delivering the message to Holland via a broken arm, Healy is attacked at his home by two unnamed thugs (played by Beau Knapp and Keith David), who are also looking for Amelia. Since he’s a true tough guy, and because he has a hidden shotgun, Healy is able to chase the thugs off. Realizing that Amelia may actually be in danger, he contacts Holland to get his help finding Amelia before the thugs do. The two are assisted by Holland’s disapproving young daughter, Holly (Angourie Rice).
After a bit of seemingly haphazard investigation, the duo find out that Amelia was working with Misty Mountains and an amateur filmmaker on a porno that called “How Do You Like My Car, Big Boy?”. Aside from the porn, the movie was about the smog problem in Los Angeles, and how government and industrial corruption was allowing it to continue. Amelia’s mother, Judith Kutner (Kim Basinger), is a high-ranking official in the United States Department of Justice. She claims her daughter is delusional and paranoid and just lashing out because she thinks the government is evil. The guys don’t know which side to trust, but things are getting more dangerous. After the thugs failed to tie up loose ends, their boss dispatched a hit man named John Boy (Matt Bomer) to kill Amelia, Holland and his family to prevent further witnesses. John Boy proves to be a very efficient killer, he even manages to track Holland to his home, where Amelia ends up being kept after she falls onto the roof of the detective’s car after a shootout. Holly pulls a gun on John Boy, which gives her dad enough time to get back home and fend him off. Before the fight is over, an impatient Amelia leaves the house. Unluckily, she runs up to John Boy’s car to ask for help and is promptly shot dead.
Realizing that Amelia was telling the truth, Holland and Healy search for the film in order to get evidence of her claim. After some more detective work, they determine that the film was spliced into the presentation film for the Los Angeles Auto Show. At the auto show, the two find that John Boy, along with a few other thugs. In the subsequent fight, Healy subdues John Boy, but spares his life for Holly’s sake, while Holland manages to capture the film as evidence. Even though the evidence was shown, the Detroit car companies are immune to any charges, as is Judith, who claims she did not want her daughter killed and justifies her involvement as being good for America. Even after this depressing ordeal, Healy and Holland decide to continue working together as private eyes, naming their agency “The Nice Guys.”.
This retro action thriller/buddy comedy gets a strong shot in the arm from Angouri Rice, who plays Holly. I actually thought that she stole most of the scenes that she was in. The tough, spunky little girl isn’t necessarily a new character. What makes Holly stand out is that she’s actually really capable. Having covered and cared for her father in the absence of a mother figure, Holly’s just as much his partner as his daughter. Aside from Holly, this movie is carried by the chemistry between Crowe and Gosling. They were actually a much more even pairing than I expected from the previews of the movie, which painted Gosling’s character as more of a bumbler against Crowe’s tough guy. Instead they actually composed an pair that (along with Holly) managed to fill in each others deficiencies while still being entertaining.
Nice Guys makes me thing of what you’d get if you took an Austin Powers movie, and made it grounded. The movie dredges up the issues and lifestyle of the day alongside some humorous detectives. The movie turned out to be much better than I feared it would be. It’s the kind of movie that easily felt like it could’ve fallen flat. Instead, all of the elements of the movie come together to create something that’s a fun small-scale summer movie. The story offers enough of an actual mystery to keep itself interesting. The characters, are funny but not laugh-out-loud funny. The entire scenario is a little bit mad-cap and the pacing is just on the underside of zany. It all comes together to make something that moves along so fluidly, that time just flies by while you’re watching it. I don’t know that I’m looking for there to be a “Nice Guys 2”, but I wouldn’t be surprised or upset if there were.
The Nice Guys (2016)
- Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling are great as a pair and Angourie Rice is delightful as Gosling's daughter
- Violent Comedy that's based a lot in surprise and irreverance
- A fun take on a 70's crime drama, complete with stooge henchmen
- The Bad Guys never really seem to pose any threat.
- While the mystery isn't flat, it is a little easy to figure out.