The “buddy cop” movie can be a fickle beast in Hollywood. The combination of a rapport between two stars, a touch of light-hearted humor, and an intriguing story must mesh perfectly to stand out among the rest. Succeed, and you have a Lethal Weapon franchise on your hands. Fail, and you have White Chicks.
“The Nice Guys” — which is the latest buddy cop rendition from writer and director Shane Black — brings together chemistry, comedy, and crime to create a fun night out for the audience.
Ryan Gosling, who plays a troubled private investigator in 1970s Los Angeles named Holland March, is the standout star. March is originally hired to find adult film star Misty Mountains, but later changes his pursuit to a runaway teenager named Amelia (Margaret Qualley) as the clues lead him in that direction.
Gosling plays what is almost a slapstick comedy character, and he does it so well I had to check his credits to see if he played the role before. The Gos is full of physical comedy and one-liners, keeping the audience laughing throughout the film.
Although it is for a very different reason, also searching for Amelia is Jackson Healy (played by Russell Crowe). Healy is more of an intimidating investigator, solving the case with his head rather than his instinct.
Crowe proves to be an excellent complement to Gosling, as the New Zealander delivers his humor in a much dryer way. He also carries the action scenes in a way that Gosling is unable to.
Healy plays the tough guy, while March plays the pretty boy. Both men get the job done in their own way, making a team that is easy for the audience to root for. That formula works in movies like these, and Shane Black is more than familiar with it. The writer of Lethal Weapon, Black proves this isn’t his first rodeo with both the script and direction. It would be understandable to have some expectations heading into the theater; the way I see it “The Nice Guys” at least meets those and leaves any fan of the genre walking away satisfied.
There are a ton of one-liners in the film, and certainly not all of them land the way they were intended when written. You’ll find yourself hard-pressed to not get at least a chuckle every few scenes however, and a few scenes are laugh-out-loud funny the whole way through. The story could be tighter, but the movie has a much bigger comedy tone than crime tone, so the writing was good enough to keep my interest. The action isn’t anything groundbreaking, but it’s mixed in well to keep the audience captivated.
The movie is rated “R,” and you’ll understand why from the very first scene. That’s the best way to make a comedy in my opinion, and I appreciate the fact none of the content is watered down. Makes for a better laugh.
In all “The Nice Guys” isn’t the best date night movie, but if you’re looking for a movie with some star power that also has a solid mix of laughs and action, I would recommend it. The end was also left open, and I mean wide open, for a sequel. Hopefully it can get made.
OFFICIAL REVIEW: 7 OUT OF 10