The Nice Guys
 
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The Nice Guys

This one’s a cheerfully violent blast to the past that’s as comfy as a broken in go-go boot.

Russell Crowe and a nailed-it Ryan Gosling may headline this comic police drama, set back in the Los Angeles of the 1970’s, but, for those of us familiar enough with this kind of thing, it feels very much the reuniting collaboration of Shane Black and Joel Silver that it is. These two gave us Lethal Weapon and while both have added more impressive credits to their filmography, they seem almost gleeful to return to the genre now. Their initially mismatched detectives, on the case of a missing porn star, travel through the seamy side of Bel Air, a plucky 13 year old in tow. We all see who’s up to no good, but at least those of us watching are laughing most of the way. There’s some great old cars, nostalgic references to local landmarks and boozy bashes where you can just smell the Mary Jane. And yes, you can’t help but recognize nods to some other classic LA film noirs, this time with a splash of irony.

Shout out to Angourie Rice, the third wheel in this ride. As Gosling’s daughter, she holds the screen with the confidence of a young Jodie Foster or Tatum O’Neill.  Blowsy and beaten, Crowe is terrific as Jackson Healy, the Brooklyn born tough guy with a fast fist. He can’t help but take a side, if not back seat, to Ryan Gosling whose Holland March is the role that should make this excellent actor a hugely popular star. His physical comedy is as astute as is his understanding of the alcoholic dad who’s just trying to make it through another day with some kind of dignity in tact. It’s a truly great piece of acting that elevates a nice movie into something truly memorable.

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