There’s nothing like a good mystery. Add to that some zany fun, great cast chemistry, and a callback to 1970s Los Angeles, and we get “The Nice Guys.” Full of some of the funniest lines and moments so far this year, director and co-writer Shane Black proves that he’s more than capable of bringing a delightfully entertaining film with plenty of action, humor, and an onscreen duo that works. “The Nice Guys” is probably some of the most fun you’ll have at the movies.

The film opens with a car crash and a dead porn star. Enter private investigator Holland March (Ryan Gosling), a man who’s down on his luck, a widow and single father to Holly (Angourie Rice). He’s in the midst of investigating the disappearance of Amelia Kuttner (Margaret Qualley) while simultaneously trying to appease an elderly woman by double checking to see if the porn star whom we saw die is still alive–she claims she saw her in the window three days after her death.

This investigation leads to a less morale and willing-to-beat-you-up private eye, Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe), who is paid by Amelia to stop Holland from looking for her. But then things get strange and the mystery takes a turn when two guys (Keith David and Beau Knapp) try and kill them to prevent them from finding Amelia alive. So Holland and Jackson, who make an unlikely pair, team up to find Amelia and figure out what’s got her so spooked that she’s on the run.

There is a whole lot to love about “The Nice Guys.” From the strange pairing that is Gosling and Crowe (which works way better than anyone probably thought would), to the aesthetic, to the production, most everything works and fits together just right. Crowe is just the right amount grouchy as he is a softie when it comes to Holland’s daughter. Gosling’s Holland is lost and floundering, but still has some semblance of sense. Kim Basinger’s character raises eyebrows and Matt Bomer has traded his onscreen charm for a gun instead. Adolescent actress Angourie Rice in particular does a great job and is able to hold a scene with seasoned actors.

As much as this film is fun, the mystery does drag on for too long (the film is approximately two hours) and it begins to feel too much like a procedural closer to the film’s finale. Gosling and Crowe at their best here, Gosling’s comedic chops are especially underrated, but “The Nice Guys” just proves that he should be more involved in humor. Both actors play off of each other very, very well. Shane Black is able to combine comedy with action (guns are flying everywhere and so are dead bodies) to great effect and the two genres enjoy a fantastic marriage here.

Black has always excelled at buddy movies, “Lethal Weapon” and “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” chief among them. His use of it here, even though he’s done it in the past, feels different. It’s fresh, yet familiar. And it’s ultimately Gosling and Crowe’s dynamic that is the strength of the film. “The Nice Guys” is aware of itself; it’s silly and occasionally ridiculous, but in all the best ways possible. An entertaining film that strikes the right balance and is sure to have you laughing out loud.

80%
80%
Awesome

It's ultimately Gosling and Crowe's dynamic that is the strength of the film. "The Nice Guys" is aware of itself; it's silly and occasionally ridiculous, but in all the best ways possible.

4star

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About Author

Mae is a Washington, DC-based film critic, entertainment journalist and Weekend Editor at Heroic Hollywood. A member of the Washington, DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), she's a geek who loves discussing movies and TV. She is also a voting member of the Black Reel Awards. If she's not at the movies, she's catching up on her superhero TV-watching, usually with a glass of wine in hand.

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