Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Nice Guys

It is refreshing not being able to see where a movie will go. There were elements that didn’t normally go together: mystery and humor, dramatic actors doing humor, porn and social consciousness. I favored one and was surprised constantly with the other.

I took the mystery seriously; well known dramatic leading men looking for a missing girl, it must be serious. With that in mind, even with the emotional tone always upbeat, I waited for the tears, death, and the darkness. Almost always I get surprised into smiling, snickering, and occasionally laughing.

The Nice Guys benefited from not having the stereotypical comedian. Any point that is comical became more a release of tension rather than an expectation.

There are comedies starred by known comedians where it felt like if I laugh less then it’s a failure, which may not always be a fair assessment. Said movies venture in drama territory just to add structure and texture. 

And then there’s the latest Ghostbusters who churn out gags and jokes the pacing of a stand-up routine. I enjoyed that movie up to a point, but it becomes tiresome and shallow at length.

For The Nice Guys everyone had a specific job to do. The seriousness I credit to Russell Crowe. Even after I had a laugh I look at him and I go serious again because there’s a girl missing. He plays Jackson Healy an enforcer for hire whose job it was to beat to a pulp anyone who was tailing a girl named Amelia (Margaret Qualley). That set him to cross paths with Holland March (Ryan Gosling), he was closing in on Amelia.

It was a bad start for March and Healy but a humorous one that set the tone. Healy’s final blow against March before parting temporarily was to break his arm and he made this almost shrieking sound. A private investigator is a creature of the streets so for him to shriek makes him below par. I had my eye on the mystery so much that I worry for the girl but I also smiled – wow what a shriek. Was Gosling trying to be funny?

Later on Healy got beat up by more violent men also looking for Amelia. He was able to fight them off but now he’s come to realize that Amelia is much more than a simple college girl. Healy makes up with March; the serious muscle and the stumbling detective come together. Seriousness gets mixed in with humor.

What’s beautiful about The Nice Guys is not the buddy detective vibe already building but March’s truly beautiful 13 year old daughter Holly (Angourie Rice). Seeing the imperfections of March as a P.I through the eyes of a daughter makes Holland March more endearing. We all want to be strong for the children, do a job we might not otherwise be perfect for.

As much as Healy is the muscle of the partnership it is Holly who watches over her dad. She glues partnership together, softens anything that would otherwise be too sharp, in a way that only a sweet innocent girl can bring. Plus she keeps the story in perspective albeit awkwardly. 

A girl is missing – she needs to be found – and another young girl, the private investigator’s daughter, noses into the case that goes into the porn industry – wait what? That party scene was great.


Even with the porn industry in play there are no explicit sex jokes. Lines were all witty, the humor organic. That meant I never lost my eye on the mystery as I enjoyed the protagonist’s fun stumble into teamwork and success. Healy always reminds me there’s a job to do; March stumbles and occasionally is brilliant; Holly makes it all worthwhile.

I googled The Nice Guys and it classifies it under mystery and crime. You know what, I still do. I watched it without the detriment of watching the trailer embedded above. It is refreshing not being able to see where a movie will go so I stumble my way in. 

Even after all my laughter, I still consider The Nice Guys as a mystery but one that provides all out natural fun and laughter providing a beautiful respite in this age of superhero movies.