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The Dose: ‘The Nice Guys’ brings back the fun of buddy cop movies

The Dose: ‘The Nice Guys’ brings back the fun of buddy cop movies

The Dose: ‘The Nice Guys’ brings back the fun of buddy cop movies
May 26
20:24 2016

Preston Mitchell | Staff Writer


For action fans, Shane Black is something of a legend. His “Lethal Weapon” script became the mold for every subsequent buddy cop film. Moreover, his script for “The Last Boy Scout” is often discussed in film schools to teach action screenwriting.

Perhaps his greatest work is “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang,” a wonderful ode to detective stories that restored Robert Downey Jr.’s career three years before “Iron Man” cemented it. In turn, Black was able to direct the single most divisive Marvel movie, “Iron Man 3.”

This time, “The Nice Guys” sees Black returning to the director’s chair, inserting two of our greatest living actors (Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling) into the drug-addled world of 1977 Los Angeles. Gosling portrays Holland March, a private eye enlisted to find a missing girl. Crowe is Jackson Healy, the enforcer-for-hire sent by the missing girl to keep March off her trail.

Once they realize each case ties into a porn star’s murder, they unite to take down a menace much larger than themselves. In a nutshell, this movie is pretty awesome.

“The Nice Guys” is a ‘70s era mystery (à la Roman Polanski’s “Chinatown”) crossed with the ‘80s buddy cop formula and post-‘00s action. What makes this film so unique is how well Black mixed those influences together and created a perfect emulation of them. This isn’t a tongue-in-cheek wink at buddy cop films like “21 Jump Street” or “Hot Fuzz”; this is the real deal. And it achieves that classic level of fun without satirizing the genre or its kitschy time period.

For this reason, Black crafts a hilarious, action-packed ride that could’ve easily come out in the ‘70s. The mystery itself not only uses L.A.’s pornographic history to its benefit, but its constant surprises and multiple layers will entice rewatches for years to come.

Most significantly, it’s a witty comedy treat that unlocks the chemistry of its two stars.

Easily his most fun role in years, Crowe is hysterical as the straight man and plays upon his violent public persona in a funny way. Earning more laughs is Gosling, who proved to be the comic standout in “Crazy, Stupid, Love” and “The Big Short.” Here, he plays radically against type (that of the smooth, flawless pretty boy) and is quite convincing as an absent-minded detective.

The true fun of this film is watching both heroes struggle to cooperate and stumble upon explosive clues – literally. In classic Black fashion, like “Lethal Weapon” or even “Iron Man 3,” the characters are deeply flawed individuals who the audience can always identify with. Even though their quirks are heightened for humor’s sake, the leads, along with Matt Bomer (“Burn Notice”) and Keith David (“Platoon”), anchor themselves and transform caricatures into real human beings. Without them, this movie wouldn’t work as well as it does.

On another note, this film will be compared to Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Inherent Vice.” Both movies center on hard-boiled heroes, complex mysteries and reside in the ‘70s. However, Black made a much better noir than Anderson did. While “Inherent Vice” focused too much on the period’s drug scene and became boring, this film features stellar set pieces and fast pacing to satisfy viewers from beginning to end.

“The Nice Guys” is, hands down, the best buddy cop movie of the last decade.

Even though “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang” stands as Black’s masterpiece, this is a strong counterpart to it. If you find time at the theater between “Civil War” and “Neighbors 2,” you would be hard-pressed to find a funnier action movie in theaters right now. Get out of your seat and go see it.

Featured Image: Courtesy | “The Nice Guys”

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