Movie Review: The Nice Guys Finish First!
When I hear the name Shane Black, first thing that comes to mind is Iron Man 3. Only reason(s) I liked that movie were 1) Another chance to see Downey Jr. do his thing, and 2) Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin.
Utter fan boy moment.
But then, the boy Shane has quite the resume – if you’ve been watching movies long before Hugh Jackman became an X Man, that is. Appearing in his first acting role in 1986 film Night Creeps (like there’s such a thing as Morning Freaks) and writing Lethal Weapon I & II, Last Boy Scout, Last Action Hero & The Long Kiss Goodnight (I would have said the boy has a thing for Ls if not for his several other works including directorial debut Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) among others.
But if I’m mad at Shane for IM3, I’m too willing to forgive him after this great movie.
I love Ryan Gosling. He’s an amazing actor with great range, he’s incredibly good looking and he dresses sharp. He’s like the modern day Paul Newman; never with a hair out of place. Watching him and Clooney in The Ides of March I was hard put to choose who was better eye candy.
Russell Crowe is another of my special guys – range; but I prefer the growling and scowling Crowe (leave Gladiator watch LA Confidential to get my point). Personal choice. I love dude.
Now, imagine these two guys in a movie. And not just any movie; a movie with enough twists and turns and naked women to rival a Chase novel.
Movie opens with a kid (Ty Simpkins; great kid) sneaking in his sleeping parents’ room and pulling a girlie mag from underneath the bed. Pay real close attention here and for the rest of the movie.
He opens the mag and stares at a naked girl with great breasts; she’s a porn star called Misty Mountains. Suddenly, through the window behind the kid we see a car careen off the highway and through the living room and down into the valley.
We follow Ty as he goes to investigate the crash – and a close up affords us the ID of the driver; Misty M, same girl kid was just looking at. The dying star, naked as she was for the most part of her life is lying on her back on a rock. She notices him, smiles through a bloodied mouth and asks; ‘how do you like my car?’ and then she coughs and dies. The boy is staring – but then, sirens start blaring and he takes off his pajama top and covers the naked woman.
For some reason, I teared up at that point.
Set in 1977 (fucking attention to detail; try not to miss a billboard advertising Jaws 2, a movie released in 1978 I don old!), the movie follows two hapless private eyes Crowe (Jackson Healy) and Gosling (Holland March) as they try to find a girl named Amelia who interestingly initially hired Crowe to dissuade anyone following her including Gosling. And that’s how the two as-unalike-as-two-snowflakes detectives meet.
The movie offers an interesting plot (very similar to Chase’s novel A Whiff of Money), something as simple as a disappeared girl leading to corruption in really high places, at least as far as 1977 Detroit is concerned.
Angourie Rice is a show-stealer here as Gosling’s March’s young daughter Holly. From the first time you meet her; she’s on her way into the house and bumps into Crowe who just beat up her father, you can’t help but love her. She looks Crowe in the eye and asks, “What do you do?” I really can’t remember his response but her next line is; “How much would you charge to beat up my friend Janet?” She stole my heart.
She’s reason enough to watch the movie over and over.
March is a drunk but she loves him – as evidenced when she sees Healy again and glares at him. “You beat up my dad!” she says accusingly and the self-conscious Healy mumbles a response. A family tragedy set March on a drinking and smoking bend; he’s all but given up on life. Kim Basinger, looking unusually clean here (I suspect she’s gone under the needle recently) comes in a I-love-Detroit to death US Department of Justice official who wants to hire the guys to do what they were going to do anyway; find her daughter. There’s a scene in which she has her checkbook out and she’s scribbling Ten Thousand Dollars to hire the guys. March blabs and says “This kind of job costs a lot…something like five thousand dollars.” The sharp woman quickly tears up the check and writes another one, this time with five thousand dollars.
Too mush talking at times is wahala.
It’s the chemistry between the unlikely lead characters that load up the movie and make it so much fun. March is the mouth; charming as only Gosling can be, wearing the sharpest of 1977 suits and shirts, flirting with ladies and interrogating mermaids in in-house pools. Healy is the muscle; roughening up a reluctant hotel lobby attendant and saying; “We can do this the easy way – (grabs attendant’s tie and slams his head into the desk)…well, that was the easy way…”
Of course, you know the guy just has to blab after that.
The Nice Guys is a great movie; right balance of humor, action and emotion to just make your girl hold you a bit tighter afterwards.
And if you saw the movie with your guy…well.