The Nice Guys is one of those films that I’ve been waiting for for a long time–witty, clever, perfectly timed, screwball comedy.
Every scene is perfectly crafted. The kind of comedy I wished they made instead of the piles of low brow trash that Hollywood vomits on us on a regular basis.
This film comes from director Shane Black, who gave us such previous jewels as Iron Man 3 Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang, The Long Kiss Goodnight, and the original Lethal Weapon (you know before we realize we all hated Mel Gibson and Danny Glover for both being psychotically evil). And this film stands with those other great comedies, I would even say this is better than several of them. This film is great because it gives us a new buddy cop film in an era when we thought we would no longer get buddy cop films, and it does it while keeping the formula fresh and innovated.
To do this he takes us back to an era before cell phones, the internet, or modern forensics and all the other things that made investigation so much easier once we got them. The 1970’s. Don’t worry, the terrible music of the era does not dominate the movie…the 70’s obsession with porn and stuff however does…
The movie follows two main characters, muscle for hire Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe), a man who feels lost in life, and Holland March (Ryan Gosling) a somewhat unscrupulous and mildly inept private detective who also feels lost in life. There are many questions about both characters, why is Healy on the wagon, what did he do before making a living out of beating people up for money, what exactly happened to March’s wife and house. None of these personal mysteries are really answered in this movie (we can always hope for a sequel). The two find themselves trying to find a young woman named Amelia who had something do with making a porn movie where the point of the film was actually the plot (everyone in the film except Amelia does realize how stupid a concept this is). The corruption of the US auto industry is also involved (you know the idiots who sold out at every chance to the unions then demanded that the tax payers bail out their failing business model to continue to produce over priced low quality shit). And thrown into Healy’s blunt pragmatism and March’s semi-competent but still clueless private investigations is March’s daughter Holly, who offers sanity to counter her dad and optimism to counter Healy.
The plot itself is clever and keeps you guessing. However while we here at Elementary Politics tend to try and read a deeper meaning into films, we caution against it in this case. Yes there is a lot to do with government and cronyism corruption in this film but it done in such a way as to only be there as a plot point not the central message of the film. If you need a distraction from the politics may I suggest you do a running body count of the innocent bystanders that get shot…it’s a disturbingly high number. So while talking bees complaining about the environment might be taken by some to be a green message, it’s probably better to view it as surreal dream sequences and a vehicle to move our three heroes through their insane adventure.
Final Grade A-