Hilarious, action packed and a true throwback to the summer "buddy" action movies of the 70's and 80's, THE NICE GUYS is a hell of a lot of fun.
Ryan Gosling is Holland March, a widowed private detective with a teenage daughter and a docket of less than stellar cases.
Russell Crowe, having more fun than I've seen him have on screen in a very long time, stars as Private detective Jackson Healy, falling into a role as an enforcer versus any real detective work and unleashing violence at the drop of a hat or the opening of a door.
The odd couple private eyes find themselves on the same trail when adult film star Misty Mountains is killed in a car "accident" the same day as a filmmaker and a studio head.
Their trail on the case leads through territory very fertile with big laughs, violent action and plenty of suspects.
The film is set in 1977, and embraces that era with perfection, down to the smallest detail, bringing back some terrific memories of bad, loud clothes and great music.
Crowe and Gosling are a perfect match, sparring each other with fast fists, barbs and put downs. One has more confidence than pain tolerance and one has more brawn than brains, but together as PI's...they're adequate.
They're obviously having a ton of fun in Writer/Director Shane Black's return to the same genre that launched his career with the Lethal Weapon films, "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang" and "The Long Kiss Goodnight".
Black's style is rarely subtle, but its excess is infectious. Look at the party scene in the Hollywood Hills. Hilarious, dangerous and suspenseful within moments, its perfectly crafted.
Not everyone could bring together a shoot-out, a massive fist fight, Earth Wind and Fire and a pool filled with mermaids together, but Black nails it.
Angourie Rice is a great find as Holland's daughter Holly, Keith David is a classic bad guy and Matt Bomer has an eccentric blast as a lethal hitman called John-Boy thanks to his seventies mole.
Kim Basinger is fine (and looks great) in a key role as a government agency head and seventies TV fans should look for "Buck Rogers" star Gil Gerard. But look hard as he's nearly unrecognizable as car company owner Bergen Paulsen. The years have not been as kind to Gerard as they have been to Basinger.
Black has a style all his own, creating plenty of danger and comedy in the same frame. He also finds some quiet moments that add an additional depth to the story, but never lingers on them long enough to slow down the fun.
Watch closely for some vintage Sunset Blvd shots of Tower Records and a "Jaws 2" billboard behind it, plenty of smog filled 1977 skies and music and film references for buffs.
There's even an adult film marquee buried deep in one scene that references a former Shane film with sly humor.
THE NICE GUYS earns it's R rating with plenty of extreme violence, language and an almost 80's frankness to its nudity. It's not for the kids, but for any fun loving grown up that misses the great buddy cop films of the 70's and 80's, THE NICE GUYS delivers the goods and then some.
These guys aren't nice, but they are a LOT of fun and get an A-.