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.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Gettin’ Higher Choir will be performing alongside Wavelengths Community Choir and special guests during an online concert Jan. 30. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria choirs team up for online concert fundraiser

Valdy among performers for free concert

Everett Bumstead (centre) and his crew share a picture from a tree planting location in Sayward on Vancouver Island from when they were filming for ‘One Million Trees’ last year. Photo courtesy Everett Bumstead.
The tree planting life on Vancouver Island features in new documentary

Everett Bumstead brings forth the technicalities, psychology and politics of the tree planting industry in his movie

Scaredy Cats television series has turned Empress Avenue in Fernwood into a Halloween themed neighbourhood. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Trick or treat! Halloween comes to Fernwood in January

New television series Scaredy Cats filming in Victoria

Cindy Foggit plays the lead role of Eliza in Passion and Performance’s film production Eliza: An Adaption of a Christmas Carol. (Courtesy of Rachel Paish)
Victoria adult dance studio releases modern adaption of A Christmas Carol

Instead of usual stage performance, dance studio turns to film

Melissa Martin from the Rollin Art Centre displays one of the late Robert Aller’s portraits that is part of the art gallery’s permanent collection. Some pieces from the Rollin’s collection will be exhibited when the gallery re-opens in February 2021. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Rollin Art Centre puts permanent collection on display

Works from Robert Aller, Arthur Lismer, Norval Morrisseau to be featured

Artist Jim Holyoak’s installation “Quagmire.” Holyoak will be the first speaker for the Artist Talk Online Winter 2021 series. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
North Island College Artist Talk goes online for winter 2021

The series invites contemporary Canadian artists to speak about their professional practice

Juno-winning Toronto dub poet Lillian Allen is VIU’s Gustafson Distinguished Poet for 2021. (Photo courtesy Karen Lee)
Juno-winning dub poet is VIU’s Gustafson Distinguished Poet this year

Lillian Allen will present online lecture, reading and Q-and-A

James Summer, the City of Victoria’s new youth poet laureate. (Courtesy City of Victoria)
Slam poetry expert introduced as Victoria’s new youth poet laureate

Vic High alum James Summer will serve in the role for 2021

There are many options for enjoying a meal out locally during Dine Around and Stay in Town, on now through Feb. 7. (10 Acres Commons)
Dine Around Stay in Town Victoria carries added importance during pandemic

Special menu items for eat in or takeout/delivery, staycation deals available through Feb. 7

Peter Crema and Harmony Gray (from left), past participants of the Nanaimo Art Gallery’s Code Switching teen art group, at work in ArtLab in 2019. The NAG will be expanding the space thanks to a $75,000 arts infrastructure program grant. (Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo Art Gallery, Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre receive new arts infrastructure funding

Province announces recipients of funding through B.C. Arts Council program

Ty Wesley, Nicole Darlington and Cameron Macaulay (from left) performed in the Beholder Entertainment production <em>Gender Sucks!</em> in the 2020 Nanaimo Fringe Festival. (Video still courtesy Sam Wharram)
Nanaimo Fringe Festival artist lottery open to local and B.C. playwrights

Organizers hope to stage plays in-person at indoor and outdoor venues this summer

Canadian singer-songwriter-actor Joëlle Rabu will join her son, Nico Rhoades, for a livestream performance courtesy the Tidemark Theatre Jan. 29. Photo submitted
Mother/son powerhouses Joelle Rabu and Nico Rhodes join forces for Island livestream

Campbell River’s Tidemark Theatre hosts online music revue

Most Read