Good Friday evening!
It's the summer movie season and the multiplexes are full of animated critters and wise cracking superheros. And that's fine. But if you want something that doesn't involve either, I have a winner for you:
The Nice Guys.
Set in 1970's Hollywood, "The Nice Guys" is a rare gem these days: It's a comedy that's actually funny and a buddy movie that makes you think more of bickering with your brother in the back seat of the family station wagon on a hot summer driving vacation than of polished, prepackaged Hollywood buddy pairs.
Russell Crowe is Jackson Healy a muscle for hire guy living on the underbelly of Hollywood and hurting people for a living. Ryan Gosling is Holland March, a less than attentive private investigator and single dad to Holly (played charmingly by young Anguorie Rice). This team of unlikely mystery solvers comes together to find Amelia, a young girl who is somehow connected to a missing porn film and a string of deaths involving everyone else involved in that film.
I'm a huge Russell Crowe fan, I've never made any bones about that. However, I've NEVER been a Ryan Gosling fan. Ever. I always thought of him as something mildly attractive movie directors used to try and pretty up a set. Not this time out. Gosling is hilarious and his timing is great. He and Crowe play off of each other as if they'd been doing it all their lives.
Is this the next "Citizen Kane?" Hardly. "The Nice Guys"is what a summer movie should be: frothy fun with a bit of naughtiness that gets you out of the heat for a couple hours. Given the prolific vulgar language and the nudity, violence, and all the other whatnot in the movie, this is one to get the sitter for. But grown ups, especially grown ups who lived int he 70's and don't mind a little slapstick with their crime movies, this is a winner.
One should note that once again, Russell Crowe did what he does best: He fit the role. Literally. He gained some sixty pounds, putting in a very physical performance at a whopping 268 pounds. (Most of which, 52 pounds, he's lost since filming wrapped.) He wanted to be the polar opposite of Gosling physically, and he managed that. Speaking simply from a health vantage point, as someone who
struggles with losing weight, I hope 1) That there's a sequel next summer and 2) that Mr. Crowe opts for a fat suit or something that'll be easier to shed.
All in all, however, this is a fun movie that doesn't pretend to be anything other that what it is: a good time with a few solid laughs. That's what movies used to be before they all tried to change the world or be all "aware."
Four out of five stars kids. Go see it if you still can find it in theaters. Support fun at the movies! Support men wearing something other than tights! Support characters who solve crimes without superpowers! Support movies that don't have talking animals!
Bring on the sequel!