It’s 1977 in Los Angeles, and folks are having a fine time dancing their way through the smog, sort of, until a car carrying porno star Misty Mountains crashes down from the hills through the living room of a wide-eyed but somehow still respectful young teen.
Thus start the mysteries of The Nice Guys, a compelling buddy movie directed by Shane Black, co-written by Black and Anthony Bagarozzi and featuring the vinegar-and-water pairing of Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling as a couple of for-hire guys just trying to make a living.
Crowe’s Jackson Healy is a tough guy who’ll take a man’s money to shoo older men away from a father’s too-young daughter by knocking on the guy’s door and delivering the verbal you’re-a-creep message with a punch in the schnoz heavied by brass knuckles.
Gosling’s Holland March is a sweet and addled guy with a precocious 13-year-old daughter (played by the fantastic Angourie Rice) who’ll take anybody’s money to investigate their whims.
Their paths cross when Jackson’s case forces him to apologetically break Holland’s arm to back off of what he happens to be investigating.
Yes and no turns into them working together as things get more curious. Amelia, who turns up waif-like every now and again, becomes oh-so-central to all their lives (much thanks to Margaret Qualley’s determined barefoot performance). There’s a non-porno but “experimental” naked movie she made with a definitely porno director, nefarious and extremely violent characters trying to track her down, dead people turning up left and right, and a surprise appearance from her mother (Kim Basinger, oh-so-taciturn) who happens to be the head of the Justice Department.
The smog of the time is a big player as they determine that Big Three of Detroit is involved, and LA looks and sounds the part, with Earth, Wind and Fire showing up at a party.
The vibe is perfect, the chemistry is right, the story weaves it all.
A moderate-sized crowd for an early Saturday matinee at the big Regal Cinemas’ theater in Syracuse mall Shoppingtown seemed to enjoy it all.
What is your favorite Russell Crowe movie, and why? What is your favorite Ryan Gosling movie, and why? What is your favorite buddy movie, and why?