The Nice Guys
starring Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Angourie Rice, Matt Bomer, Margaret Qualley, and David Keith
written by Shane Black and Anthony Bagarozzi
directed by Shane Black
Set in Los Angeles in 1977, The Nice Guys is a period detective story, called “neo-noir,” I think. It focuses on private eye Holland March (Ryan Gosling) and a tough enforcer, Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe), who team up to investigate the disappearance of a teenage girl, Amelia. Holland, a widower, is a little incompetent in his work and he is repeatedly re-directed and saved by his more level-headed, focused daughter Holly (Angourie Rice). Gosling performs some Abbot and Costello gags that I recognize and appreciate, but which go way over the heads of most young movie goers today. The gags help emphasize the contrasting partnership of March and Healy. Healy was the straight man (Abott), Holland was the goof (Costello).
Amelia`s case overlaps with another case - the supposed faked death of porn star Misty Mountains Others are pursuing Amelia with deadly violence which redirect Holland and Healy from a simple missing person case to a more intricate murder case. They meet a hit man called John Boy, named for the Richard Thomas character from the long-running 1970s family drama The Waltons (I regularly watched that weekly show), because of the facial mole they share. Again, this is a detail that totally escapes a young audience today. Even though it is explained in the movie, I don’t expect most people to pay sufficient attention. A movie is like a book. If you want to understand it, you have to pay attention.
I like and revile the movie for its accurate recreation of the 1970s: television, fashions, TV shows, even colors. The movie title is written in the awful Yagi Link Double advertising font, rendered in an even more awful yellow, like the baseball uniforms of the Pittsburgh Pirates of the time. It was characteristic of the time, but it was awful then, and it`s still awful now. In many ways the 1970s were a wasteland of bad music, bad fashion, bad food, bad TV (remember Chuck Berris and the Gong Show?), bad politics, and almost nothing to do. That`s why we got Punk Rock.
“Marriage is buying a house for someone you hate.”