It’s 1977, and as a young lad ogles his dad’s copy of Playboy (yes, the audience gets the full view!) little does he suspect that the object of his leering is about to drive through his house – to her death, unfortunately, but at least she does it topless, right?!
Holland March (Ryan Gosling) is a private investigator and single father – and alcoholic. He’s making ends meet with dodgy ploys and unexciting cases, until he’s tracked down by thug-for-hire Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe), sent to warn him to back off the missing persons case he’s on. However, when even bigger thugs turn up demanding Healy tells them where the missing Amelia is, he’s back to persuade March to team up and resume the case.
After that, the plot gets more than a little convoluted. Sightings of the dead adult film star, a giggling man with a blue face, and a giant bee – convoluted and very, very strange. While a lot of it is a great deal of fun, the weirdness just felt too forced and rather pointless at times.
What is great, though, is the relationship between Crowe and Gosling. I’ll confess, this is the first time I’ve seen the latter in a movie, despite his heartthrob status. Which is pretty much missing here, as he plays it for laughs (oh, the high pitch of his screaming!) and pathos both, a perfect foil to Crowe’s more cynical, straight-forward tough guy with a hidden nice side. There’s also a not-too-annoying child actor, unfortunately playing a rather too cliched daughter-as-the-real-brains role.
I’m also going to sing high praises for the period setting. Yeah, I like that kind of thing anyway, but the sleezy 1970s vibe is just perfect for the tale of porn stars and missing starlets.
If you’ve seen Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, there’s a very familiar kind of a feel to The Nice Guys, but I fall on the side of thinking the earlier film worked far better. The messiness of the plot spoiled some of my enjoyment of this – and there is a lot to enjoy, so I suspect that opinions will be quite varied on this one.
If anyone can explain that bee to me, though…!
Released: 3rd June 2016
Viewed: 10th June 2016
Running time: 116 minutes
My rating: 6.5/10 – didn’t quite live up to itself