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Watch 'Nice Guys' blow up buddy-cop trope


May 31, 2016

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    In an age where fairy-tale adaptations and superhero movies threaten to over-saturate the market, reboots and remakes are the norm, and sequels and franchises are near-ubiquitous, it’s a breath of fresh air whenever an original movie is released. 
    Written and directed by auteur filmmaker Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and Iron Man 3), The Nice Guys is an impeccably stylish detective noir as well as a delightful deconstruction and celebration of the buddy-cop genre — but most importantly, it’s a highly entertaining action-comedy comprised of colorful, witty dialogue and memorable scenes filled to the brim with pure, unadulterated schadenfreude. In Black’s script, the quippy one-liners, clever observations and filthy jokes fly by faster than the bullets, with multiple scenes subverting and inverting expected story tropes and action clichés.
    Set in a seedy 70s-era Los Angeles full of extravagant parties, foul-mouthed minors and gun-toting goons, The Nice Guys follows soft-spoken but violent “messenger” Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) as he pairs up with single father and hilariously inept private investigator Holland March (Ryan Gosling) to solve a simple missing person case that escalates in scale, questions and dead bodies the more they dig up.  
    The lightning-fast banter and chemistry between Crowe and Gosling elevate an already sharp script. Most of the film’s hilarious schadenfreude comes from the conventionally attractive but secretly comedic Gosling: His character, March, is a frequent victim of painful pratfalls, drunken mistakes and humiliating putdowns. He’s an absolute riot to watch as he fumbles from one mishap to another, whining and crying about his ever-escalating situation. He’s a character you don’t think twice about laughing at whenever misfortune finds him, but who you still root for anyway thanks to the charm and pathos Gosling brings to the character. Crowe, the proficient one of the duo, shows off his own comedic chops, delivering wisecracks, exasperated reactions and bemused looks toward the rest of the cast. 
    Both Crowe and Gosling’s characters are given plenty of moments to make the audience laugh, but they’re also given opportunities to allow viewers to sympathize with and understand them as well. The end result is a movie with fully realized, three-dimensional protagonists you’ll want to see more of when the credits roll. 
    The secret heart of the film belongs to young teenage actress Angourie Rice, who plays March’s daughter. Rice’s character avoids the pitfalls of most children seen in films — she’s capable instead of useless, intelligent but not pretentious, cute but nowhere near annoying. She is able to go toe-to-toe and hold her own against veteran performers onscreen, proving she’s an actress to look out for in future flicks. 
    While the mystery is generally solid and leaves enough surprises to keep you engaged and entertained, the plot does get a little out of hand, stretching itself slightly too far at times. However, this can easily be overlooked due to the rich comedic material found in the character-driven script. Overall, The Nice Guys is equipped with enough charm, wit and style to keep you satisfied for the rest of the summer if you choose to end your theater movie marathon early.


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