In 1977, in Los Angeles, an elderly woman named Mrs. Glenn, (Lois Smith) hires private investigator Holland March (Ryan Gosling) to find her niece, a porn star named Misty Mountains. (Murielle Telio) The police say Misty died in a car accident, but thinks that a missing girl named Amelia Kutner (Margaret Quailey) is somehow involved with Misty, but Amelia has hired an enforcer named Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) to keep people away from her. After beating March up, Healy realizes that they should team up to find Amelia, they try to find her at a protest against smog, but she isn’t there. March and Healy get another tip that Amelia may be at a porn producer’s party. They don’t find Amelia but they find the producer Sid Shatrack dead. They also find March’s daughter that March’s daughter, Holly, (Angourie Rice) is also at the party trying to find Amelia. There is yet another person looking for Amelia, that is her mother Judith Kutner (Kim Bassinger) who is a high ranking official at the Justice Department. As they continue to look for Amelia, the dead bodies pile up. Do March and Healy find Amelia? Why can’t Amelia’s mother find her? Why are all the people associated with Amelia and Misty ending up dead?
I didn’t like The Nice Guys. The story just seems to meander all over the place. There is a lot of violence masquerading as action, the comedy is the same running gag, again and again, there is a lot of nudity, used as filler, and the writers seem to think that involving a 13 year old girl in the middle of murder and pornography storyline is somehow funny. It is not. The lines the writers have kids saying in this film are generally just disturbing. There is a plot, and a subplot, and neither of them work very well. Both March and Healy seem invincible, especially March, he repeatedly falls, down hills, through plate glass windows, into a pool, and nothing ever happens to him. It is a step below the average buddy cop movie.
Ryan Gosling, in this movie, is asked to play a broad comedic, almost slapstick role. He is known for his quiet, brooding, smoldering characters. It’s not that he can’t play this kind of role, in fact he’s quite good at the timing of the comedy, the problem lies with the material, which is more like Jerry Lewis level slapstick comedy. And this is below Gosling’s skill as an actor. This is more of an Owen Wilson role than a Ryan Gosling role. Russell Crowe has several problems in this movie, the first is his weight, I’d like to think that he was just method acting, playing a paunchy ex-cop who is now hired muscle, but I think Crowe just likes to eat and possibly drink to excess,, and his general lack of fitness gets in the way of him being a convincing enforcer. The second problem is Crowe trying to cover his Aussie accent, with a bad New York accent, the dialogue coach in this movie should be fired. Oddly, the best performance comes from Angourie Rice as Holly, she is put in embarrassing situation after embarrassing situation but handles her role well. Kim Bassinger has a small role, and is not very memorable.
Shane Black is both the writer and director here. He did the first two Lethal Weapon movies, so he knows his way around buddy cop films, but there’s nothing special here, lots of gun violence, lots of car chases, throw in too much sex, and you’ve got a formulaic Hollywood cop film. The pacing is slow and the running time is too long. Crowe and Gosling have no chemistry, and Black does not get a good performance from either. The cars and clothes are from the 70’s, but the cinematography doesn’t have that grainy 1970’s look to it.
The Nice Guys: Gosling lays an egg.