Great combination of humour, mystery, award-winning actors, 70s setting and... pornography
Directed and co-written by Shane Black (Iron Man 3, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang), The Nice Guys is a genuinely hilarious buddy comedy with a little mystery case to go along with. Set in the 70s, Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe), someone who helps protect or beat up people, is hired by a mysterious girl named Amelia (Margaret Qualley) to stop a tail that's been following her. When Healy finds out that the grave danger that she's actually in, he teams up with the tail who he's beaten up — an alcoholic private investigator named Holland March (Ryan Gosling), assisted by his young daughter Holly (Angourie Rice) — to investigate and locate the missing Amelia.
Fantastic performance and chemistry by the two lead, Oscar-winning Russell Crowe (The Water Diviner, A Beautiful Mind, Gladiator) and Oscar-nominee Ryan Gosling (The Big Short, Drive, Lars and the Real Girl), as they balance out each other's character's personality and capabilities — Crowe the strong, brutal and composed one while Gosling's the sort-of clever and yet goofy one. With the tight script, comedic timing and quality character expression, physical and verbal humour, not laughing would be a difficulty watching this film. The humour is mostly unpredictable, even when it is, the actors kill it. Even simple little moments like when Healy breaks Holland's hand, and Holland screams in a way that I never thought I'd be funny.
The performance by Angourie Rice (Walking with Dinosaurs, These Final Hours) is pretty good as well although the camera focuses too much on her at times just to imply that she's actually happy or amused. Despite being young, logical and very mature for her age, the role as Holly is like the moral compass and innocence that hold Healy and Holland together.
Jokes and slapstick aren't all this film has to offer. The trios play private detectives investigating into a plot that keeps thickening while the film engages the audience to keep guessing. The mystery of the missing Amelia and the possibilities of a dead person being seen alive actually do somewhat have a satirical point and purpose at the end of it — but not before the characters find themselves investigating the people involved in pornography where there's quite a few scenes with nude actresses. However, these scenes are not done cheaply without plot progress and humour.
The Nice Guys is simply one of the best buddy comedies I've ever seen in recent years. The last buddy comedy that cracked me up as much at the cinema was perhaps The Other Guys (2010). And with the character depth and the casual and yet interesting mystery involving the porn industy as the cherry on top, it makes the film an incredibly enjoyable time for its target audience.
Malaysia censorship: At the press screening, vulgarities weren't censored at all but scenes with nudity were either blurred or cut. Pity.
Second opinion: (Sorry, none again this time. Watched it alone too.)
Verdict: Perhaps the best original buddy comedy in recent years.
Rating: 4.5 / 5
Genre: Mystery buddy comedy
Running Time: 116 minutes
Director: Shane Black
Screenwriters: Shane Black, Anthony Bagarozzi
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Russell Crowe, Kim Basinger
Malaysia Release Date: 26 May 2016
Local Distributor: TGV Pictures
Production: Silver Pictures, Waypoint Entertainment, RatPac-Dune Entertainment
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