It’s a shame there aren’t more film out there like The Nice Guys. Yet the endangered species that is the ‘original screenplay’ looks like it may become ‘extinct’ in the near future. Despite plenty of fans of The Nice Guys imploring everyone and their mothers to see the film, it doesn’t look like it’s going to do the trick. A not so successful domestic run in the States means the film has started off badly, and if the mostly empty cinema of my Saturday showing is to go by, the international box office will also be lacklustre. Though my reach is small, I preach with the choir once more to say that this is a film that should definitely be seen.
The Nice Guys follows the mismatched pairing of Holland March and Jackson Healy (Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe), two fish out of water private investigators attempting to find the missing femme fatale for varying reasons. With a plot that dances around pornography, corporate conspiracy and even giant talking bees, these not so nice guys get caught up in way more than they bargained for. Think Kiss Kiss Bang Bang meets Chinatown.
The plot is labyrinthine and loses point often, but thanks to director Shane Black’s fantastic screenplay experience he makes it work with some quick witted jokes alongside some fantastic interchanges between the leading duo Russell Crowe does most of the leg work to bring flair to the action part of the film, but Gosling shows a natural talent for slapstick comedy that brings in most of the laughter (and applause).
Visually The Nice Guys is also a delight, with the various sights and sounds of the the 70’s pornography boom bringing in comparisons to Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights with an additional funky motown soundtrack. With that Shane Black fits The Nice Guys comfortably into the zeitgeist of the time, only to escape it once or twice with some twisted surreal moments involving giant bees and Richard Nixon that make the film extremely self-aware, arguably too much.
Of course I could nitpick with The Nice Guys as it is by no means a perfect film, and even struggles to hold up to Black’s previous success in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, but it achieves merit where many other films have suffered in recent years. Producers took a chance on Shane Black’s script and it paid off critically, but that won’t matter if the box office figures don’t create wonders. If you skip out on this one, you’re sure to regret it in the future.