'The Nice Guys' Review: Ryan Gosling & Russel Crowe and smog, sleaze and slapstick

The Nice Guys Ruan Gosling, Russel crowe
Print Available at Mondo

What is it about: It is 1977, and in it's opening scene, The Nice Guys ( directed by Shane Black) porn actress Misty Mountains take a swan dive of an Hollywood Hill, and crashes into the bungalow  and a boy's wet dream, in an apparent suicide.
This is Los Angeles in the seventies, a city of hazy smog filled sunsets and sleaze. Where Ryan Gosling and Russel Crowe team up, as private eye Holland March and enforcer Jackson Healy to solve the case of a missing girl. Well, team up is a big word, seeing that they meet cute when Jackson is hired by this young woman, Amelia (Margaret Qualley) to beat up Holland. Amelia soon disappears, leaving a trail of burned down houses and stolen political porn film reels (it's a thing!). Holland & March and Holland's thirteen old daughter Holly (Angourie Rice) follow Amelia's trail, leading them through tacky parties in mansions, the corruption that cripples Los Angeles, and a bunch of wacky bad guys.

Is it any good: I give it a B. A B for this buddy movie, or are they called bros now, full of brash banter, and boobs. If you like Shane Black's other movies, the formula is the same. The only downside then is that the jokes and action sequences in the first half of the movie land better than later on. After a while fatigue sets in, and it's more of the same, not really building up to something.
Gosling is charming and his slapsticks antics as he tumbles, plunges, and fumbles are the highlight of the movie. Russell Crowe as the straight man is likable and chill.
Philippe Rousselot' s cinematography is gorgeous, full of smog filled skies and wide shots, that feel as Don Draper himself put a positive spin on pollution. Retro: when poison feels and looks awesome.
For that retro part, even if it set in the seventies, The Nice Guys guys takes you back only as far of the eighties, and it's Lethal Weapon origins. Even replicating the opening sequences, a woman falling, ending up on a car, her breast exposed. It really must be Shane Black's jam.
In an interview with Hollywood Reporter Black said that he wanted to make this movie for ten years, even trying to make a tv-show out of it. Only when the story was transported to the seventies Ryan Gosling and Russel Crowe came on board and the greenlight was given in days.
But it is the retro feel that rubbed me wrong.

It is not really a retro feel, it's a borrowed from other movies feel. Lots and lots of very cool movies.  By example Kim Basinger plays Amelia's mother, and head of the Department of Justice. Her LA Confidential reunion scene with Russel Crowe distracted me, I kept thinking how good La Confidential was. Whenever Holland's daughter Holly was wisecracking, I kept thinking of Papermoon, Taxidriver, Leon, Alice doesn't live here anymore. Movies that did it much better, and let's face it nobody can match a thirteen year old Jodie Foster.

The Nice Guys borrows his premise from Chinatown, not the incest, but the corruption scheme, but Polanski is not cutting Jack's nose. The meandering detective story is the derived from The Big Sleep. When you take the Big Sleep and put an useless detective in it you get The Long Goodbye. When you take those two, sprinkle some Hawaiian shirts on top, and aim to make it funnier, you arrive at the brilliant The Big Lebowski. Seventies porn industry? I raise you Boogie Nights.

Pete Bradshaw in the Guardian even invoked Carl Hiaassen. No, please not Hiaasen! Hiaasen would eat The Nice guys for breakfast and spit out something in the afternoon that is much funnier, outlandish and daring. On sleaze and corruption, there is not a more hilarious satirist around than Hiaasen.

The Nice guys feels like serving shots and calling it a Gin Gimlet. Bro, you start out fun, then you are just obnoxious, and not worth the hangover.