Review: The Nice Guys Is Well Acted But Poorly Paced
Title: The Nice Guys
Director:Screenwriter: Shane Black and Anthony Bagarozzi
Principal Cast: Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Angourie Rice, Matt Bomer, and Margaret Qualley
Summary: A mismatched pair of private eyes investigate the apparent suicide of a fading porn star in 1970’s Los Angeles
I very much enjoyed Iron Man 3 and that is because it felt very much like a Shane Black movie. I know there were a lot of people that weren’t crazy about it, but in general I think it’s the strongest entry in the trilogy and I think that has a lot to do with Black. I didn’t know a lot about The Nice Guys when it showed up on my calendar for screenings. I think I saw a very brief trailer or poster so I knew who was in it but I didn’t know it was a Shane Black movie until a friend on twitter mentioned it. I loved Kiss Kiss Bang Bang so I had fairly high hopes going in.
The Nice Guys is a funny movie with engaging lead performances dragged down by weird pacing and story issues.
I try not to do this too often but by poking around the internet it seems I’m in the minority that didn’t think this was a perfect movie. The things that worked, though, work extremely well. I’m a huge sucker for duos and team dynamics. For some reason I love watching people interact and seeing how they bounce off of each other. It’s why I like the later Mission Impossible movies over the originals. I find the ‘one man against world’ or even just a singular character to be less interesting. This applies even more in action movies and action comedies. In this case they are Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe), a slightly psychotic hired muscle, and Holland March (Ryan Gosling), an over the top and often drunk private investigator. The setup is very much a homage to the “buddy” cop movies of the 1970’s dialed up to eleven. It’s very funny but it doesn’t tip over into a mockery of the genre, satire, which is a hard line to walk.
As I said these two characters bounce off of each other in an endlessly delightful way but it’s March’s daughter Holly (Angourie Rose) who steals the movie. She is one of the best movie kids to come around. She is capable, completely tired of her Dad’s shick and, ironically, probably the most level headed person in the film. I would say she is better at moving the plot along than either of the two leads and I loved that about her. Once Healy and March accept that Holly isn’t going to leave this situation alone they just let her tag along like it isn’t gross child endangerment to let a thirteen year old chase around bad guys. Then again March is also the kind of guy that lets his kid drive him around because he’s too drunk. The action scenes are very well staged and lively to watch.
If the movie has a real flaw it’s in the pacing and the story. I don’t wear a watch, and I won’t ever check my phone while watching a movie, but if I could I would have looked at the time which is never a good sign. A truly engaging movie shouldn’t feel long at all. We have movies like The Martian or Creed which are longer than The Nice Guys but I was engaged enough that I never noticed. This also might be a fault of the story that feels like it was trying to be this twisty thriller and comedy but ends up making little sense by the end. It goes some places that I didn’t quite expect, but the weird story combined with the pacing made the entire enterprise feel like it went on forever, even if the scenes were fun to watch.
The Nice Guys is a fun and entertaining movie that could have been great with a few tweaks to the script and the pacing. As it is, however, the movie is worth a look if you love the “buddy” cop genre and Shane Black movies in particular.