The seventies are back in Shane Black’s The Nice Guys. The story centers on a feckless L.A. private eye (Ryan Gosling) and a muscle-for-hire (Russell Crowe) whose agendas align as they search for a missing teenager mixed up with pornographers. The Nice Guys has enough nudity, stylized violence, and swearing to earn its R-rating without pushing the envelope. Most of the humor is goofball and slapstick and, while Gosling and Crowe are charming together, they’re not comedians like Robert Downey Jr. or Jason Bateman, so it’s strange to see them operate in such light tones. Moreover, a lot of the physical humor is stale, more a rework of Abbott and Costello. Still, the movie does a fine job with texture and atmosphere, capturing the period details, whether it’s the fashion, the lingo, the politics, or the billboards. The Nice Guys is definitely taking us down memory lane, mining nostalgia. In that way, it’s like a dream: Outrageous things happen and no one really gets hurt.
By Alec Julian & Carrie White