I do not like this movie that much. That is my most simplistic opinion on The Nice Guys. It’s not like I didn’t want to love the movie; I like Shane Black (the director/writer), the leads, and the originality of the movie itself. However, that does not automatically make The Nice Guys an “A” movie. In fact, it is pretty dang disappointing.
I will say that Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling have amazing chemistry, many of the jokes are extremely hilarious, the action scenes are fun, the score is cool, and the tone of the movie is perfect. When you watch the movie, it looks exactly like 1977 California. The set design, costumes, soundtrack choices, slang, and pop culture convinced me that we were in a different decade (and my dad confirmed this). However, that is where the positives end. The rest of the film is not nearly as great as everyone is saying it is.
While the male actors are very competent, the female actors (every single one of them) are shockingly poor. Margaret Qualley, Angourie Rice, and even Oscar-winner Kim Basinger give astonishingly awkward performances. Speaking of Rice, her character is terrible. They try to make her this “child who swears and is kinda like a sidekick” character type, but she still does all the things poorly-written children do in action movies. They’re annoying; throw themselves into dangerous situations when their guardians tell them not to, etc. She is somewhat charming, but most of the time it just didn’t work for me. For the record, I am not against child actors in any way. If done right, we get Raffey Cassidy in Tomorrowland; then again, that is a rarity.
The plot itself has the potential to be really creative because of the time period and subject matter. Basically, two “private eyes” investigate a pornstar’s suicide and discover that it’s connected to a greater conspiracy. I’m guessing here, but I am 100% certain they were focused on comedy more than the story. In a perfect buddy cop film, say Lethal Weapon (also written by Shane Black), there should be an interesting/thrilling story and characters before comedy, which comes easily when you have enjoyable characters to get good humor out of. The characters in The Nice Guys are really simple, and, with the exception of the leads, even more forgettable. I never grew an emotional connection to any of them (even though the movie had quite a lot of drama), and I felt like I was watching the actors, not unique characters.
Despite all that I have mentioned, the films worst factor remains to be stated; it is coincidental as all heck! Even if you love this film (which many do for reasons I don’t understand), you have to admit that it is filled with dumb-luck circumstances, and Deus Ex Machinas. In one scene, the girl the guys are looking for simply lands on the top of their car. How? Why? Never explained. That is just one of the many times the writers just took the easy way out to keep the plot going. Ride Along 2 may have been boring and unfunny, but at least it stayed consistent!
I’m glad that we have original films like this still being produced, but my gosh, would it be too much to ask that they could be consistently written? I’m sorry Black, I’m one of the few critics who (unironically) loves Last Action Hero, but this movie just isn’t up to snuff. The Nice Guys gets Guy’s Guru Grade of a C+. Despite all that I have said, the movie has a 91% on Rotten Tomatoes and some critics have given it an A+. I don’t normally do this, but there is only one thing that can accurately sum up my reaction to this movie’s overwhelmingly positive reviews…
Happy Memorial Day