M FILM – Odd-Couple Private Eyes

The Nice Guys is a rude and rambunctious action comedy

A private-eye pastiche set in 1977 Los Angeles, The Nice Guys is a rude and rambunctious action comedy whose two nominal heroes are anything but nice. Ryan Gosling plays Holland March, a sleazy investigator who has no qualms about taking a big fee from a dementia-clouded widow who hires him to track down an absent husband who’s “been missing since the funeral.” He’s complemented by a bulked-up Russell Crowe, whose Jackson Healy isn’t even a licensed investigator but rather a brutal enforcer who beats up people for a fee. The two join forces to track down a missing young woman who is the only clue to a porn star they’ve been hired to find. She is supposedly dead but an elderly relative insists that she spotted the actress two days after the flaming car crash that may have taken her life.

Holland and Jackson have one functioning brain between both of them, and they tend to stay behind the curve as all sorts of mayhem starts to erupt. Sinister forces are at work, there is a conspiracy that seems to reach high up into the federal government, and cartoonish violence abounds as the body count grows ever higher and our two bumbling heroes keep getting beaten up and shot at. It’s a sly update of the odd-couple detective comedy, and veteran writer-director Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) not only helped invent the genre but benefits immensely from having two very talented actors with great comedic chemistry. Crowe is the stoic, almost-bright straight man while Gosling is the pratfalling goof who tries to double-talk his way out of jams while tripping over corpses, being smitten by the wrong dame, and getting outsmarted by his 13-year-old daughter.

A confident stylist, Black balances hard-boiled noir elements with a playful sense of ‘70s West Coast decadence (and a perfect period sound track). Admittedly the baroque but under-imaginative plot is merely adequate, but the witty script slings lots of hilarious dialogue and even sets up a great Richard Nixon gag that later gets a payoff underwater at the bottom of a pool. This is all a bit like the gritty crime novels of James Ellroy on laughing gas, and people fond of the polite murder mysteries aired by PBS may be appalled by Nice’s sleaze, casual violence … and its undeniable mean streak. But those who take this as nothing more than breezy, self-knowing genre entertainment will be rewarded by a high-octane romp with great acting, many belly laughs, and a hint of redemption for its profane protagonists.

THE NICE GUYS ***

Stars Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling

Directed by Shane Black

COMING SOON:

Alice Through The Looking Glass

Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Mia Wasikowska, Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen star in a wacky and visually imaginative sequel to 2010’s Alice In Wonderland.

Love & Friendship

Kate Beckinsale evidently steals the show as “the most accomplished flirt in all England,” in a comedy about a young widow juggling three suitors. This parody of romantic fiction is based on a posthumously published novella by the young Jane Austen.

Now You See Me 2

The Robin Hood-style magician-illusionists are back for more razzle-dazzle hijinks in a thriller where they are blackmailed into working for an unethical tech magnate. Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Daniel Radcliffe, and Morgan Freeman.

Finding Dory

Thirteen years after Finding Nemo became one of the most celebrated animated films of all time, Walt Disney Studios takes the plunge with a follow-up adventure voiced by Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy, and Idris Elba.

 

 

Just Posted

Victoria mayor hopes ninth attempt to redesign Ship Point will go through

Revised master plan for waterfront site includes plazas, festival piers and more

Rifflandia music festival lineup announced for 2018

Royal Athletic Park and downtown Victoria venues will be jumping Sept. 13 to 16

Discarded household items transform to art for Victoria fundraising auction

ReFind Art for Habitat for Humanity opens May 29 at The Bay Centre

Brand showcases change art landscape in Oak Bay gallery

Explorations: Past, Present and Future is at the Gage Gallery to May 26

VIDEO: Students play free show at Willows Beach as part of concert series

‘Music in the Air, Music Everywhere’ runs May 6 - 16 around Greater Victoria

VIDEO: Let the good times roll in first Laketown Shakedown

With Current Swell and Jon and Roy as headliners, there’s lots to enjoy at this first in a series

Mulroney children to act as bridesmaids-page boys at royal wedding

Ben and Jessica Mulroney’s children will be in Saturday’s royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

St. Luke’s brings whodunnit to the stage

Laura plays at St. Luke’s Hall from May 16 to 27

VIDEO: Let the good times roll in first Laketown Shakedown

With Current Swell and Jon and Roy as headliners, there’s lots to enjoy at this first in a series

Holy haute couture: Divine designs grace carpet at Met Gala

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute benefit gala celebrated the opening of the Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination exhibition

Winspear Centre the go-to place for arts and culture

Saanich Peninsula centre a hub of entertainment and community activity

Make the most of May on the farm

Sea Cider Farm and Ciderhouse rekindles centuries-old tradition

Most Read