When a porn star is killed and a seemingly unrelated girl goes missing, an alcoholic private eye named Holland March (Ryan Gosling) and an enforcer for-hire Jackson Healy (Russell Crow) must team up to solve the case. With hired guns, conspiracy theories and pesky, disrespectful kids, The Nice Guys is an old fashioned film with plenty of modern flair.
Shane Black’s Los Angeles set 1970s noir comedy The Nice Guys is a hodgepodge of situational weirdness, cool action scenes and sweet 70s tunes that’s bound to find an audience, but not a very big one. When The Nice Guys hit theaters it wasn’t met with open arms, in fact, it didn’t do well at all even though the critics gave it mostly positive reviews. Surprisingly, most people I talk to don’t even know that it made it to theaters yet. That being said, I’ve seen the film twice and I personally enjoyed all the crazy shenanigans and the wonderful blend of humor and action that Black has come to be known for. You may not know his name but Shane Black is known for penning Lethal Weapon and writing/directing Kiss Kiss Bang Bang along with Iron Man 3, so if you’re a fan of those films (or maybe not the last one) there is a high probability you’ll dig this.
While full of plenty of action, The Nice Guys is a very talky film which means that the acting and comedic timing (both slapstick and dialogue) is incredibly important. The entire cast of the film does a solid job bringing Black’s witty script to life and, in conjunction with his direction, manage to deliver something fairly different in a year full of raunchy comedies, sequels, reboots and conventional blockbusters.
Focusing on the actors, it’s obvious that Russell Crowe isn’t the type of person who is normally associated with comedy, but his tough guy, face punching persona is perfect for this type of film. That, coupled with Gosling’s hilariously boozy private eye/father character becomes a match that I hope we get to see on screen again. The reason being is you can tell they are having a blast, getting beat up, thrown around, going to retro 70s LA porn parties etc. Gosling’s character in particular steals the show just because of how terrible his morals are and how far from suave he actually is.
As I mentioned above, I don’t think everyone is going to like this film because of how off-beat it is. The main characters are bad people trying to do good, both for the wrong and right reasons, the story jumps around quite a bit even if it’s pretty easy to follow, and, to be frank, not everyone is a fan of noir or is looking to jump back to a 90s style comedy. While I didn’t think it moved slow at all, this is an investigative film with plenty of action and humor but it is nearly a two hour film which may have allowed enough uneventful moments to creep into the subconscious of the viewer. I’m using my parents as my basis for this since they didn’t know what to make of the film and used the “it was ok” rating to sum up their feelings.
I’m hoping that The Nice Guys becomes a film that grows on people now that it’s out on Blu-ray similar to the way Kiss Kiss Bang Bang became a cult hit. I think it’s the type of film that could grow in popularity as soon as it hits SVOD platforms like Netflix for the simple fact that it’s fun and stars Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe, two powerhouse names. Unlike most of the superficial mainstream films people are exposed to today, this one is a lighthearted buddy comedy with plenty of hard-hitting action and a smart plot to drive the film forward. I’d go so far as to say that this is one of the more entertaining adult films released this year and definitely one of the most underrated.
As with most blu-rays these days, the film looks great. The cinematography was excellent which allowed for the quality of this digitally shot film to naturally transfer well to the home video market. The same can be said for the audio, the score is solid but it’s the soundtrack that really wins. The film is chock full of hits from the 70s and is bound to get your foot taping or lips moving at some point.
Unfortunately for any one that picks up a copy of the film, don’t expect much from the special feature front. There are only two, both of which feel like generic press kit material and neither of which is a gag reel.
Always Set on Black (5:27) – The cast and crew discuss their love of Shane Black and working with the famous writer/director on set. They gush how he’s able to find the perfect balance between comedy and action, making sure scenes aren’t too funny or too action oriented without disrupting them with one of the other elements. Mr. Black discusses his ongoing love of noir and how for this story they wanted to use elements in the film that were major issues in LA at the time for the backdrop of the story. At the end of the film Shane Black starts yelling about a sequel. If the movie had performed better I wonder if we would have gotten one, I know I would have been up for it.
Worst. Detectives. Ever. Making The Nice Guys (6:15) – A short making of featurette featuring brief interviews with the cast and crew, including producer Joel Siolver explaining that Shane Black loves detective stories. It has people discussing how the side villains evolve and how their type is very important to the story. Lastly, it has Gosling talking about how his character is a schmuck 90% of the time. Most of this isn’t revolutionary stuff and isn’t something that’s useful for a trivia night.
The Nice Guys is now available on Blu-ray combo pack, DVD and digital thanks to the folks at Warner Bros Home Entertainment.