Grade: A


Directed by Shane Black

Starring Ryan Gosling, Russell Crowe, Kim Basinger

Porn stars. 1970s Los Angeles. Mismatched private eyes. These are just a few of the ingredients in the clever pot that is Shane Black's dark comedy The Nice Guys. Perfectly stylized and purposefully smart, this is the exact type of romp and adventure the summer box office needs.

Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe play a set of private investigators unwittingly teamed up for a huge celebrity scandal. With a large payday ahead of them, but complete opposite work ethics, the two set out to solve the fishy and tragic suicide of a popular snuff film actress. Through kitschy escapades and slapstick action, the two uncover more than they should.

From the onset, director Black shares, with ease, a very pointed and deliberately styled version of the buddy comedy. Gosling's Holland March is a clumsy, dim-witted fast talker. Crowe's Jackson Healy is subtly strong and meandering. They quickly become the epitome of "opposites attract."

Each artistic element helps define The Nice Guys as more than just a genre comedy. The set pieces and suave demeanor of the entire production is so perfectly retro. It feels timeless, but very specific to a time. However fun and nostalgic to look at, Black is careful to never let the idea of it all overshadow the true strength in the incredible resourceful script (written by Black and Anthony Bagarozzi) and the defining performances of both Gosling and Crowe.

Given the supreme talent, it would have been easy for The Nice Guys to feel too over-the-top, and the abundance of promotion almost ruined the satire. But, handled with care by the entire production, this is easily the finest summer release in recent memory. It feels like a big studio flick from the same time period it represents, which is exactly how it should feel.

It's more crass than "The Rockford Files," but carries with it the heart of a true, fun crime caper. The plot almost gets lost in a ridiculous third act, but even the film's biggest faults aren't enough to take away the multiple rewards.

This is definitely worth a trip to the theater, especially during the time of year engrossed with sequels and big studio fare.

Rating: R

Runtime: 1h 56min

© 2018 by Scottie Knollin.