Movie Review: The Nice Guys (2016)

img_6787Balancing the enjoyable and the implausible, Shane Black’s The Nice Guys (B) is essentially a cartoon-like series of pratfalls and stunts, buoyed by Ryan Gosling’s funny, lived-in performance as a bumbling 1970’s L.A. private eye. The scruffy script and amusing set-ups in a sleazy stew of pleasant period detail are often quite entertaining, and many of the action sequences deliver the goods; but the film about mismatched mates on a case is built on a threadbare and generally preposterous plot line that doesn’t amount to much. Although Russell Crowe is billed as the “straight man” half of the central buddy comedy team, he rarely resonates. With all the strut and swagger on display, it’s instead Angourie Rice as Gosling’s character’s daughter who shines in her role and pulls off some of the shrewdest private dickery. Kim Basinger and Matt Bomer are wasted in throwaway roles. The filmmakers can’t decide if it’s supposed to be a straight-up thriller or a comedic counterpoint to noirish capers; either way the ambitions don’t much match the onscreen daring-do. The menace is minuscule, and the scope is silly. It falls together a little too easily.

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