The first time I watched the original Lethal Weapon, I knew that the person behind the screenplay was a truly original voice who has to have more work. Of course, I was a bit late to the party and Shane Black already achieved what I wanted him to. This guy can write some of the funniest, action packed screenplays and I honestly envy the wit that he has. As if the envy wasn’t strong enough, now we have The Nice Guys, which is without a doubt one of the funniest movies I’ve seen in a long time and possibly the best written movie of 2016 so far.
Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) is an “enforcer” who was hired by a young woman named Amelia (Margaret Qualley) to stop the man who has been looking for her. Thinking this man to be some sort of stalker, Healy goes to the home of Holland March (Ryan Gosling), a private detective who was hired to find Amelia, and is intimidated into dropping the case. Meanwhile a porn star that went by the name Misty Mountains (Murielle Telio) is brutally murdered, and all signs point to Amelia being the next victim. This coincidence brings Jackson and Holland together again, but this time to find and protect Amelia while also digging up the conspiracy as to why all of her known associates are turning up dead.
When it comes to comedy, I can be pretty hard to please. One of my favorite comedies is actually a Shane Black movie from 2005, Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, so based on how much I love that movie, The Nice Guys had a lot to live up to. Luckily for me, it’s absolutely hilarious and contains all of the whip smart dialogue I’ve come to expect from Black’s writing. This movie walks a fine line between over the top slap stick and a more sophisticated, quick kind of humor. These two blend very well together, and there were only a few times where the jokes fell a little flat. We still get a perfect blend of action, comedy, and some pretty heavy hitting drama. A lot of this is due to Black, but a lot of credit also has to go to the two stars that absolutely knock it out of the park.
There’s no doubt that Shane Black has a certain kind of formula he uses to make his movies. In Lethal Weapon, we have Murtaugh as the straight man and Riggs as the wild card. In Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, Perry is the straight man and Harry Lockhart is the wild card. Pretty basic comedy right there, except these guys are detectives. Crowe’s Healy is the straight man and Gosling’s March is the wild card. What I love about these two, however, is that I know them as being very serious actors. Watching Gosling have a complete freak out in the middle of a gun fight is absolutely hilarious, but what’s just as funny is Crowe reacting in the mellowest of ways to what he’s doing. The chemistry between these two feels like it’s been forged on the Mt. Olympus of film, and I’d love to see these two as these characters again. I also have to give a major shout out to Angourie Rice, who plays Holland March’s daughter. She has a really fun part in the movie, and this kid plays it very well and is very believable. She’s just as much a memorable character as March and Healy.
I think I’ve emphasized enough how funny this movie is, but there’s a lot more to it than that. The Nice Guys also works great as an action film, a mystery film, and in some scenes as a nice character drama. The action in this movie is an absolute blast, and while it does get silly at times, I was so roped into what was going on. Our protagonists are also detectives of sorts, which means there’s a huge trail of clues they have to travel on until they uncover what big conspiracy is going on. When a movie can make me laugh while also keeps me completely invested in the story and the bigger picture, I consider it a huge success. I love me a good mystery, and this one was very satisfying. Finally, the characters in this movie feel very complete, with all of their flaws, successes, and shady pasts. Part of the reason I want a sequel is so these characters can be examined more. Their situations are so unique and they feel so organic that it’s hard not to care about them.
I had high hopes for The Nice Guys, and not only did it meet my expectations, it also exceeded them. The bottom line is that this is just one hell of an entertaining movie however you look at it. There’s plenty of action, loads of humor, and also a nice mystery sprinkled with some real human drama for good measure. It simply has everything I could want in a movie. If you hate having a good time, then stay clear away from this movie. If you’re like everyone else and enjoy having fun, it’s guaranteed entertainment.