The Nice Guys

The Nice Guys ★★★★

"At least you're drinking again."

That line, in a nutshell, is why I love Shane Black. For 120 minutes down-on-his-luck enforcer Jackson Healy (Crowe) tries to maintain a sense of control in the face of growing chaos. This includes attempting to stay sober while his de facto partner Holland March (Gosling) guzzles booze by the gallon and escalates every delicate situation. Toss in a missing girl and some murderous goons and you got a bad time to quit drinking. But after two hours of bullets, bodies, and babes our "heroes" end up on top and Jackson Healy never takes a sip of liquor. A classic Hollywood trope used to make a character relatable or redeeming (or in this case, disciplined). But in THE NICE GUYS heroes can still be assholes and lessons aren't always learned.

See, most Hollywood movies would end with Healy giving March a big speech about getting sober. Then March would break down, hug Healy, and decide to quit boozing once-and-for-all. Not in THE NICE GUYS. After surviving a tsunami of shitty situations and near death experiences our movie closes in a bar with both of our "heroes" getting hammered drunk. Now getting wasted regularly is not a good thing, but in THE NICE GUYS it's the right thing. Just two flawed simpletons struggling with right-and-wrong and genuinely not giving a damn about life lessons. I found it oddly noble and pretty refreshing in this era of political correctness gone mad. But none of that would matter if THE NICE GUYS wasn't really funny. It is.

Now, I've heard some complaints about the film's originality. I guess I can see that a little bit. But look at it this way; its a summer movie actually aimed towards adults with ZERO minions, Vin Diesels, space ships, or brooding superheroes. Doesn't that qualify as original by default? Sure, the convoluted plot bounces off the rails but Black seems to realize how ridiculous it is and has fun with it. The overstuffed story is a just holding device for all of Black's subversive antics, smartass kids, and machine gun dialogue. I should also mention how much I loved Angourie Rice as Gosling's daughter, Holly. She made me forget how much I usually hate child actors.

OK let's wrap this up. THE NICE GUYS is a great piece of private eye cinema that has a groovy 70's vibe, lots of tough talk, and great chemistry between Gosling and Crowe. So yeah, I loved it. I want to avoid spoilers but "bumblebee in the car", "hidden ankle gun" , and Gosling's anguished screams will go down as some of the funniest moments of 2016 (and there are a dozen more). THE NICE GUYS is my kind of summer movie - two bumbling drunks solving crimes whose superpowers are swear-words, chain smoking, breaking bones, and crashing cars. They even have a wise-ass sidekick.

Suck on that, Avengers.

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