When a private investigator and a hired thug join forces to track down a 15 year old girl, it’s only a matter of time that things don’t go as smoothly as one would hope. Set in the late 1970’s in Los Angeles at the hype of the car industry, a scandal emerges that lays corruption at the feet of many wealthy and important figures in the city. Finding the young Amelia (Margret Qually) holds what seems to be the key to solving the puzzle. Initially against each other, Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) and Holland March (Ryan Gosling) join up with hilarious consequences that at times will have your stomach in knots.
At its heart, The Nice Guys really is just a crime film. However wrapped around this storyline in as much like a pass the parcel are layers of comedy that once you strip away the paper you are hoping you end up with the prize. Sometimes it disappoints while at times it feels like you have won the present. In essence it’s hit and miss but don’t think that this movie is a bad egg, far from it. The story itself is good and does keep you engaged throughout. So what is good about The Nice Guys? Plenty and if you are feeling nostalgic and were alive in the 1970’s the film does a great job at recreating that era. The clothing and styling are brilliant and you know you are watching something from 1977. High waisted trousers, bells bottoms and huge collars are just some of the clothes on offer. Seeing vintage cars on the screen that even in this modern day would be eye turners, it made us come away thinking about our first cars and how good but equally bad they were. Finally the soundtrack is brilliant. It’s subtle throughout but if you listen carefully to it, it just helps join the film together.
In terms of its characters each is unique and on the whole are played to a degree of assuredness. Ryan Gosling plays a single father who is a private eye that seems to be in a rut. Taking on small cases from old ladies that have ‘coke bottles for glasses’ he’s not ashamed at accepting their money despite them being senile. He’s also not afraid to drink his way to the bottom of a bottle. He accepts a case to find the young Amelia which leads him to cross paths with Russell Crowe. A robust no nonsense character that is paid by Amelia to stop Ryan looking for her. He doesn’t hold back and quite likes his knuckle duster to inflict enough pain on his subject to let them get the message. When Jackson and Holland finally join sides as the conspiracy comes to light they are hired by Amelia’s mother Judith Kuttner (Kim Basinger) the district Attorney for LA investigating the car manufacturers. Kim’s performance is probably the weakest in the film, whether that is in purpose or just her acting we couldn’t decide but it didn’t feel right and we were left thinking when was the last time she a played a role of noteworthy distinction. Sadly we are still searching for that answer after this performance.
Holland March: Look on the bright side. Nobody got hurt.
Jackson Healy: People got hurt.
Holland March: I’m saying, I think they died quickly. So I don’t think they got hurt.
Comedy value is the name of the game on this movie and at certain point the whole cinema was laughing out loud. No spoilers here but suffice to say Ryan Gosling is the man generating the laughs. Sex and drugs play a big part in the film too and that is probably accurate given the era. Party’s galore with scantily clad dressed women or ladies with the most elaborate of costumes are a sight to behold. Even mermaids make an appearance which just added to the hilarity of it all. Sadly though there were moments when the jokes just were not that funny. Is this though a comedy film? No it’s not as mentioned earlier. It’s a crime film with comedy added on. Some though might see it the other way round which is a shame.
Overall The Nice Guys is an enjoyable film. When leaving the cinema it may make you think what was that you just watched… but let it stew and you will come to recognise that there are several layers to this film which at first might not be appreciated but are actually excellently put together. With a solid and different crime based storyline along with moments of comedy you can’t help but enjoy what’s on offer. Essentially this film is as its title suggests… its ‘nice’, not great nor bad but ‘nice’.
Reviewed by Jon Elliott