THE NICE GUYS
Direction: Shane Black
Actors: Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling
Take two heavyweight Hollywood stars, cast them in a shaggy-dog story set in Los Angeles circa 1977 and assign a writer-director with a proven flair for madcap action comedy. Voila! It’s time to get acquainted with The Nice Guys.
Working from a crackerjack script co-authored along with newbie scribe Anthony Bagarozzi, auteur Shane Black, whose credits include the Lethal Weapon franchise (as writer) and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (as director), takes the tried and tested buddy-buddy genre and fills it with quirky characters, explosive set pieces and hip humour.
In a series of loopy misadventures, a thuggish enforcer-for-hire (Crowe) and a hard-drinking private investigator (Gosling) team up to find a missing teenage girl (Margaret Qualley) and solve the mystery surrounding the seemingly unrelated death of a porn star.
Zipping around the nourish streets of the City of Angels, the duo becomes embroiled in a criminal conspiracy involving sex, drugs and — believe it or choke — the dangerous levels of automobile emissions. Even Raymond Chandler would have approved of the hard-boiled mayhem which ensues.
There is a delectable rapport between the beefed-up Russell Crowe and a loose-limbed Ryan Gosling. Their mismatched personas are utilised to great advantage. In his best role in some time, Gosling displays a hitherto untapped penchant for slapstick. The sardonic dialogue is reminiscent of the screwball comedies of Hollywood’s golden age.
Besides achieving the near-impossible feat of stealing the show from her celebrated co-stars, Australian actress Angourie Rice, as Gosling’s wise-beyond-her-13-years daughter, also provides the film’s moral and emotional core.
A no-holds-barred throwback to the hedonistic 1970s, The Nice Guys is one of the most fun movies you are likely to see this year.
It must be noted that this review is based on the uncensored version of the film which was, somewhat misleadingly, shown to the press. When contacted for clarification as to whether the same version will be screened commercially, a senior official handling the film’s PR claimed that he would check and revert back with the relevant information. He didn’t.
Under the circumstances, one can merely hazard a guess that the release prints may have the expletives bleeped, violence toned down and nudity snipped. Also, the statutory warning relating to smoking will be prominently displayed.
Anyway, the Catch 22, exacerbated by the fact that the censor certificate wasn’t appended to the press preview print, can be resolved only by dropping in on The Nice Guys at the multiplex.