The Nice Guys: That 70s show

Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe pair up in a fun, retro buddy movie.

June 03, 2016 02:38 am | Updated October 18, 2016 12:34 pm IST

The Nice Guys begins with a seemingly outlandish but telling scene. Late at night, when his parents are asleep, as an adolescent boy admires a picture of Misty Mountains, Los Angeles’ former favourite porn star, lasciviously posing in a car, a real car comes crashing down the terrace of the house. The boy goes outside to find the other casualty of the accident – a car that looks similar to the one in the picture. And in it, lies Misty Mountains, dead and naked. He takes off his jacket to cover the body of the same woman he has been fantasising about a few minutes ago.

The scene is a hark back to several Hollywood noir classics set in LA. The deceitful world hiding government corruption with a private eye in hot pursuit as in Chinatown, the mysterious disappearance of Hollywood-hopeful starlet from Mulholland Drive, the inner circles of the porn industry as in Boogie Nights. Deliberately or not, it also has two important cast members from LA Confidential that was based on the city’s dark underbelly in – Russell Crowe and Kim Bassinger.

The Nice Guys is a comedy but not a dark one. For one, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. The film by Shane Black is completely comfortable in being a light, fun film. Even though the humour is silly, there is drollness in it. And with a handful of characters solidly etched, we also have decent drama. Holland (Ryan Gosling) has been hired to investigate the dead porn star – Misty Mountain. It leads him to encounter Jackson (Russell Crowe), another private eye on the case, but with less reputable credentials. They don’t really get along very well. They are never on the same page. Yet, there is a brotherhood, an understanding that they need to watch each other’s back. Meanwhile, Jackson also develops a fondness for Holland’s daughter and vice versa. Together, their quest to find the truth about the murder becomes an LA adventure through private poolside parties, hotels and hilly driveways. The film is set in late 70s and the period gives the film a warm, retro, fluid texture.

But more than anything else, The Nice Guys works because the chemistry between its actors is crackling. Gosling shows great comic timing as the low on confidence single father, Crowe’s perfect as the ageing officer who has his own way of doing things. Angouri Rice as Gosling’s good-hearted and courageous daughter adds to the buddy-movie fun. The familiarity of where the story is heading stops it from being a piece of its kind. None of the ‘twists’ really have the shock but the action has a whimsical quality about it.

The Nice Guys is a ‘nice’-ish film that doesn't try too hard. And that is a relief.

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