Review: The Nice Guys (2016)


More later, but I just wanted to say: Don’t miss it. It’s in theaters now. It got great reviews. But nobody went to see it. It should be seen. This is old-fashioned buddy-cop entertainment with so many great elements (comedy, stunt-man-stunt-driving work, complicated plot, humor, great chemistry between the leads) that it was pure FUN watching this thing, and I have to say, I saw it at a matinee and it had a nice-sized audience and the thing plays like a bat out of hell. How often nowadays do audiences actually rock with laughter, as one, missing the lines of dialogue that follow? RARELY. It’s up there with Shane Black’s other film, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, my favorite, with which it shares a lot of similarities. Black’s DIALOGUE. His obsession with Los Angeles. His obsession with Christmas (read my pal Kim Morgan’s gorgeous and melancholy interview with Black), and … Black’s almost old-fashioned wish for a simpler world, a world where manners matter, where those poor lost girls in Los Angeles, drawn into the underworld, are saved/protected/respected (Russell Crowe: “The porno star?” Ryan Gosling, upset: “Yes. The porno … young lady.”) Everything about it works. I absolutely loved it. It won’t be in theaters long, and in this world dominated by empty block-busters, re-boots, and blatant cash-grabs, a film like this should be supported. It doesn’t re-invent the wheel, but there’s something refreshing about that. Stop trying to re-invent the wheel because it already was invented. 800,000 years ago. Create memorable characters, throw them into a situation, give us a chase-scene or two, give us some high stakes, give us some legitimate comedy, trust slapstick – TRUST IT – but you have to know how to film it – Black does – and then let it roll, see where it takes you. Gosling: “I was busy. I had to question the mermaids.”) Plus: Ryan Gosling has a battle with a bathroom-stall door worth the price of admission. See it.

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10 Responses to Review: The Nice Guys (2016)

  1. Todd Restler says:


    Thanks for the push to see this. What a fun and refreshing movie! It definitely has a throwback kind of feel to it, which I’m sure was the idea. Gosling and Crowe had major chemistry, and even though they are great actors, I was NOT expecting them to be so comfortable in a screwball comedy like this. They were great.

    And how good was Angourie Rice as Gosling’s daughter?! She kind of stole the movie as the brains of the operation. It has to be a little intimidating for a young actress to work with two mega-stars like that, and she owned the performance. “They were doing anal and stuff”. “Don’t say and stuff, just say they were doing anal.”

    How about the “protest” scene! I loved the way the movie was shot, scenes were allowed to breath, the compositions were clear, and things were allowed to build, and build, and BUILD through dialogue and character as opposed to trying to find the movie through “cuts” and “edits”. I loved that scene. “How come the gas masks didn’t save you?!” Confused looks.

    Or the fall off the roof by two characters, which was allowed to play in one shot, and was funny, gross, and advanced the plot and characters all at the same time. “I must be invincible, it’s the only explanation!”

    I’m glad you mentioned the bathroom door scene. That might be funny on the page, but it is absolutely up to the actor to make it funny on screen, and Gosling killed it. Most actors say that comedy is harder than drama. A scene like that is a great example. There is no “technique” to fall back on, it’s just up to the actor to somehow physically be funny. Can’t be easy. Maybe it took 100 takes to get that right, who knows? But what a payoff!

    Margaret Qualley, who played Amelia, is Andie MacDowell’s daughter and is one of the stars of The Leftovers, where she is just awesome. She will be a huge star, you heard it hear first.

    I think the line was ” Why were you swimming?” “I had to question the Mermaids”!

    Most fun I’ve had watching a movie in quite a while.

    • sheila says:

      Todd – so glad you saw it and loved it!! I want to see it again I enjoyed it so much.

      I loved the daughter too. I loved her driving. Like, no big deal. I’m a kid and I’m driving my dad around. I loved the relationship between Ryan Gosling and her. And when you finally figured out why she sat in that field reading … :( The “anal and stuff” line was actually my least favorite moment in the movie. I’m so over anal sex references in every single movie and now it’s a 13 year old saying it and I’m over it. It was funny but I could have lived without it. I did like that scene though. There she is, interviewing some floozy, she’s totally infiltrated the party.

      and oh my God, the protest scene!!! Such a great lampoon of such earnest silliness. And Gosling and Crowe staring out at the “dead” bodies wondering how they hell they were supposed to proceed.

      (I loved, too, how much this was a film about film. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang had that element too – have you seen that? I love that film. Shane Black understands how to film comedic scenes – it’s practically a lost art. He’s got such a good ear – and like you said, a great sense of composition and editing so that whatever moment it is – like the protest scene and then something way more complicated like that end scene at the casino – LANDS.)

      The fight scenes were amazing – I loved Gosling hiding out behind that revolving car. What a great way to utilize the specific environment – car convention – as a background to a gigantic shoot-out! So many shoot-outs are generic. This one wasn’t at ALL. And Gosling chasing the rolling reel of film … PERFECT. It’s like a metaphor for all directors everywhere!

      and yes, the bathroom stall! The only thing Black had to do was make sure that that door swung closed on its own. How many times have all of us struggled with bathroom stall doors like that – it’s so annoying! I wonder if they came up with that on the day, when they realized that that bathroom door was wonky like that. HILARIOUS – and yes, loved that it was up to Gosling to make that funny. With the cigarette falling into his dropped pants. And Crowe just standing there on the edge of the frame watching the pantomime. The audience I saw it with were ROARING.

      It made me so happy!!

      I’ve seen a couple of episodes of The Leftovers and found it really creepy and interesting – I loved her in this too.

      Shane Black is so concerned about the lost young women in Los Angeles. All of his films feature them … and men worried about them. Lethal Weapon – that stunning opening shot – starts off with one of those lost girls. It’s touching really.

      I am so so happy you saw it, Todd. It’s been really fun talking about it – nobody else has seen it. people haven’t even heard of it – how is that possible? What a total shame. It’s been marketed up the wazoo, critics loved it. And still ….

      It’s such a tough environment right now. A film like this is a breath of fresh air.

  2. Todd Restler says:

    Total breath of fresh air! I will watch this movie over and over.

    Shane Black is a hero to all quasi aspiring screenwriters like myself. After Lethal Weapon he was able to sell his script for The Long Kiss Goodnight for $4 million. He and Joe Eszterhas briefly created a moment in time where the screenwriter was the Rock Star. It didn’t last but I love him for that. For some reason I have not seen Kiss Kiss Bang Bang yet, it’s been on my “must see” list forever, I will definitely seek it out now. If it’s half as good as The Nice Guys I will love it.

    I know it was a completely different character, but I kept thinking Crowe was playing Bud White 20 years later.

    This was on IMDB. Ok on the page, great on screen. All due to Gosling.

    [Healy meets March in the bathroom after previously breaking his arm]
    Jackson Healy: March. Jack Healy. I’m not here to hurt you.
    [March opens the bathroom stall door and brandishes a gun]
    Holland March: How stupid do you think I am? I got a license to carry, dumbass. And ever since your little visit, this little baby’s gonna stay right here.
    [as March gestures with his gun to his to shirt pocket, the stall door begins to close. March slams it open and drops the cigarette he had in his mouth into his pants]
    Holland March: Shit! Fuck!
    [March reaches down to grab the cigarette and the stall door closes again. He repeatedly slams it open with his foot. Healy is quietly amused]
    Holland March: Don’t move.

    I only liked the “anal” line because it was a call-back to Gosling telling her “Don’t say there are whores here and stuff, just say there are whores here”. She was learning from him just like he was learning from her. They actually had a wonderful relationship. I loved her little smiles of triumph after she would rip into Gosling, and you realize that she doesn’t really mean everything she said, but rather she was just “motivating” him the way Vince Lombardi might motivate his team. How many screwball comedies in history have had a father-daughter relationship as heartfelt as this one?

    I understand a Malick movie maybe not doing business, but The Nice Guys is the kind of movie that EVERYONE will LOVE. Like you said in your comments on another film in your viewing diary, if we as the public can’t make a movie like this a hit and instead flock to Angry Birds, well, then we get what we deserve. PLEASE EVERYONE SEE THIS MOVIE!!

    The Leftovers Season 1 is great, but Season 2 may quite literally be the best thing I have ever seen. I know there is so much to watch but I really can’t recommend it strongly enough, nothing I could write would do it justice.

    • sheila says:

      I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on Kiss Kiss Bang Bang! It’s been a while but I remember laughing out loud – like, ROARING – at some of the shenanigans and behavior and scrapes – and God, a movie that can make me laugh like that? I love it forever.

      // I kept thinking Crowe was playing Bud White 20 years later. //

      Ha. How about his CLOTHES? They were so so funny to me. That jacket and the shoes. He looked ridiculous but he didn’t give a fuck because he had brass knuckles and who’s gonna say shit about him?

      How about that line at the end – something like, ‘It’s nice to see you’re drinking again.” hahaha

      They really did have such great chemistry! If the world were a perfect place – if the world was the 1940s world – they would have an entire series of these guys solving crimes together. Alas, we do not live in such a Nick-and-Nora-Charles-franchise world anymore and it pisses me off!

      Oh, and yes, I know the call-back to Gosling’s grammar-connection was what the joke was. I appreciated it. I’m sick of anal sex coming up in every movie, that’s all. Every. Single. Movie. It’s a new thing. I’m over it and I’m over women having to be good sports about it. This is not a comment on whether or not I, personally, think anal sex is fun. It’s not a judgment about anal sex itself. It’s that I am sick of how often it’s used as a punchline, or how much it comes up, and it’s ALWAYS about women – a WOMAN’S ass – because God forbid straight men would ever tolerate jokes about anal sex with THEM. It’s gross. Like the taboo broke and now everyone’s over-using it and it rubs me the wrong way. I have many feelings about this but I will spare you because it’s rather boring and lecture-y. Ha. I should write an op-ed for The New York Times but I don’t feel like getting hate mail.

      // How many screwball comedies in history have had a father-daughter relationship as heartfelt as this one? //

      I know, right? Shane Black CLEARLY adores Paper Moon. A clear influence!! It could be so schmaltzy-cheesy – but here, it just felt real. And there was that sweetness there too. I LOVED how she stopped Russell Crowe from killing that guy – it was the look of devastation on her face – the “no, no, this isn’t you” – even though it IS him – it was so effective! Shane Black has guts. He allows sincerity and innocence to operate just as fully as all the crime-bad-guy stuff. Love that about his work.

      // if we as the public can’t make a movie like this a hit and instead flock to Angry Birds, well, then we get what we deserve. PLEASE EVERYONE SEE THIS MOVIE!! //

      My thoughts exactly. And with all the moaning about female film-makers not getting a shot (at, what, directing a superhero franchise?? The value system is all fucked up) – then people – not just women – but everyone – should go see The Meddler, written and directed by a woman, starring two wonderful actresses, filled with surprises – it’s totally unique – and it EARNS its emotional moments. It’s not manipulative at all. But I don’t see people flocking out to see that – they’re just ranting about how so-and-so-female-director isn’t hired to direct Superman 15.

      I don’t want women to HAVE to direct a blockbuster to get respect. I want them to make their own films, films that are personal to them, films they want to make, where they AREN’T just a hired hand.

      See “The Meddler.” Tell your friends. I want to live in a world where a movie like that would flourish. It would have flourished in the 70s.

      // Season 2 may quite literally be the best thing I have ever seen. //

      Really!!! My friend Allison was the one who, basically, forced me to watch it – “You, of all people, with your cult fascination, need to see this movie!” And I loved the couple of episodes I saw. I am currently doing Homeland and don’t have room for anything else – but I will definitely get back to The Leftovers based on that comment alone!

    • sheila says:

      and again, Todd: so thrilled you went out and saw The Nice Guys. I love passing on recommendations and having someone run with it and love it too.

      Like you recommending “Z” to me. And now that I’ve seen it I don’t know how I have lived without ever having seen it before! :)

      • Todd Restler says:

        Thanks Sheila! I love telling people about Z since it seems to be off the radar for some reason. I saw it the same week as Battle of Algiers on a friend’s recommendation so I always group those 2 together in my mind.

        I am always flattered when you see something on my advice. If you only see one thing ever again that I want you to see please watch The Leftovers. It’s SO amazing but I feel like I am the only one in the world who knows about it (except your friend Allison- she has great taste!)

        It was my pleasure to see The Nice Guys, especially since I took the whole family. It may have been the hardest R movie my 12 year old has seen, though he has been exposed to plenty, and even though there were a few moments I may wish he hadn’t seen, he LOVED the movie and was laughing so hard soda came out of his nose. So I’m happy that worked out.

        I would LOVE a series of these two, (really 3, the daughter is integral), but if that is not possible, at least a sequel is in order. I will open a kickstarter myself to help fund NICER GUYS if Black decides to write it.

        • sheila says:

          // he LOVED the movie and was laughing so hard soda came out of his nose //

          HA!! That is so awesome!!

          Leftovers coming up after Homeland … What I saw intrigued the hell out of me.

  3. Lyrie says:

    I laughed at the trailer – which never happens – so when I saw you recommended it, I decided I didn’t want to miss it. Plus: California in the 70s, the clothes, the cars… It was so great! I didn’t know those guys could be so funny. Gosling is so great! And so much tenderness (for lack of a better word) in Crowe! My friend said he probably has ear damage because I laughed so hard.

    Small tangente: I’m with you on the whole anal stuff. Let’s be creative and make jokes about guys taking it up the ass – in an non-homophobic way. THAT would be original.

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