The Nice Guys might go down as the biggest missed opportunity of the summer.
Set in 1977, Russell Crowe stars as super tough guy enforcer, Jackson Healy. He has been hired by the mysterious Amelia (Margaret Qualley) to scare off someone who has been trying to find her.
Ryan Gosling stars as Holland March – the not so tough guy private investigator, who has been trying to find Amelia. Unlucky for him, he is the guy she hired Healy to scare off.
Soon, the two start to realize there is more to this mystery which involves the government, big business, a dead adult film star and Amelia’s mom (Kim Bassinger), so Healy and March must team up to get to the bottom of it.
I hope they can make sense of this mystery because the audience is kind of left at a loss to do so.
Writer/director Shane Black and co-writer Anthony Bagarozzi fail to put together a script with strong coherence and can’t avoid tossing in a few requisite Hollywood attacks on corporate America, while flying the flag for environmentalism. Those two angles come from out of nowhere, add nothing to the film and leave the bad guys in need of a more compelling motivation.
Worst of all, this mess leaves Crowe and Gosling empty handed as their characters romp around 70’s LA with the typical fashion, haircuts, mustaches and music, but none of the thrills and intrigue. Black and Bagarozzi always tease the audience with the hope we might find a more intricate and interesting conspiracy, but the bad writing makes it into a baffling, meaningless mystery.
The script also is more serious than anticipated. For a movie billed as a comedy, The Nice Guys is very light on laughs. Crowe and Gosling get some funny lines here and there, but this is not a movie with enough funny scenes and moments. More than anything, I felt Crowe and Gosling were left to riff on their own after being handed a weak script.
The two stars make a good pair, but the real break out star of The Nice Guys is Angourie Rice, who steals the show as Holland’s precocious, more mature teen daughter. She does a wonderful job making the young lady the rock of this screwball situation, while maintaining enough vulnerability for the audience to have concern for a kid in way over her head.
The Nice Guys, as always, will finish last.
1 Waffle (Out of 4)
The Nice Guys is rated R for violence, sexuality, nudity, language and brief drug use.