Holland March (Ryan Gosling) is a widower private detective taking care of his daughter Holly (Angourie Rice) in 1977 Los Angeles. However, Holly considers him to be the “world’s worst detective” because of his reckless behavior caused by his alcoholism. One day, Holland is beaten to a pulp by Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe), who is an enforcer who is paid to beat up people for money. After the daughter of a higher up in the Department of Justice goes missing, Holland and Jackson put aside their differences in order to solve the case. However, this particular case takes the duo into the underbelly of the Los Angeles porn industry.
Shane Black is one of the more unsung screenwriters working in Hollywood today. Not only is he responsible for writing the first two “Lethal Weapon” movies, he also wrote and directed the 2005 cult classic “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”. “The Nice Guys” is a great spiritual successor to “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”. Black’s greatest strength is his penchant for writing very witty dialogue. This particular asset greatly enhances the film’s characters as a result. In addition to that, Black knows how to write an engaging mystery while deconstructing its tropes at the same time.
Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe have a great comedic chemistry. Gosling’s drunkard character is a great comedic foil to Russell Crowe’s straight man. It’s also worth noting that Crowe also has great comedic timing although he relies more on dry humor. I don’t usually care for cute kid sidekicks in movies because they tend to be useless otherwise. In this case, however, Angourie Rice does a rather fantastic job playing Holly March, the daughter of Ryan Gosling’s character. Rice plays the role of adult in this father-daughter relationship since Gosling’s character is an incompetent alcoholic. What’s even more surprising is that Rice is actually an Australian. This is even more impressive since she is only 14 or 15 and can pull off a flawless American accent. The supporting cast, which includes the likes of character actor Keith David, does a fine job as well.
Overall, this is arguably the funniest film I’ve seen since “Deadpool” came out earlier this year. Shane Black feels right at home on this move rather than working a big-budgeted film like “Iron Man 3”. This film harkens back to the buddy comedies of yore. “The Nice Guys” is a great companion piece to “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”.