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article imageReview: ‘The Nice Guys’ have a lot of charm Special

By Sarah Gopaul     May 21, 2016 in Entertainment
‘The Nice Guys’ is a throwback within a throwback as unlikely partners Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe put on their goofy detective hats to solve a mystery in 1970s L.A.
Contemporary attempts to revive or incorporate slapstick comedy into modern movies generally fail to capture the nuances of the classic genre that had its heyday more than half a century ago. Back then, they never felt the need to be crass – the humour was inherent in the script or dialogue and didn’t require any additional gimmicks. These narratives respected the intelligence of the audience enough not to pander to the lowest common denominator and trust they’d still be entertained. The Nice Guys demonstrates a magnificent understanding of this concept.
Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) has a unique job description: he helps people by physically persuading others to leave them alone and he does it in exchange for money. He’s actually made quite a name for himself in this profession. When a young woman named Amelia (Margaret Qualley) hires him to take care of a stalker, he’s not interested in the fact that Holland March (Ryan Gosling) is actually a private detective following a lead. March is a widow, father, former cop and decent sleuth who has no idea why this seemingly simple investigation is becoming so complicated. However when Healy discovers more dangerous men might be looking for the same girl, he agrees to partner with March to solve this intriguing and fatal mystery.
Part film noir, part slapstick comedy, this fusion of classic genres is the far-out consequence of Philip Marlowe meeting Abbott and Costello. The former is represented by the increasingly complex case that puts them in the crosshairs of hitmen, at the mercy of the government and at the centre of the porn industry. Each man also possesses some commendable detective skills, although they somewhat lack the gumshoe’s coolness. The latter can be seen in their goofy interactions with criminals as they literally stumble onto new clues, exchange amusing banter and emit an engaging buddy vibe. March further confirms his role as the movie’s Costello when he encounters a dead body and tries to call Healy.
The visual style is a glossy version of the ‘70s as the pair manoeuvre the seedier side of Los Angeles. The colours are bold and vibrant, and everyone looks suave as dressing to impress is the city’s norm. Pastel suits, gold jewellery and models adorned in nothing but paint are the standard attire at exclusive parties, illustrating the only things that have really is décor. Nonetheless, the costume and set designers do an outstanding job recreating the time period and producing a visual style that’s simultaneously believable and somewhat surreal.
Co-writer and director Shane Black has been associated with the funny action/crime/drama/thriller for most of his career, but recently as he’s begun to helm his own scripts he’s allowed the humour to carry more weight. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was his debut in the director’s chair and this film simply builds on the great timing, and mixture of comedy and crime that made that film so enjoyable and this one even more so. In addition, Black has a knack for casting unlikely duos who are perfect on screen together. Gosling and Crowe are not actors anyone would immediately imagine starring alongside one another, but in this instance they seamlessly complement each other. Moreover, Angourie Rice, who plays March’s inquisitive pre-teen daughter, is often a welcome third-wheel as she proves quite resourceful in spite of inheriting some of her dad’s poor luck.
Director: Shane Black
Starring: Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling and Angourie Rice
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