The tag line really shouldn’t surprise you. I certainly wasn’t surprised by the fact that the same director (Shane Black) did Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. I wasn’t surprised because The Nice Guys is a fundamentally similar movie: grim and irreverent, full of dark humor, with heroes who just aren’t that heroic. The intrigue our protagonists investigate is convoluted and seedy, they wind up in trouble way above their pay grade, and nobody comes up smelling like roses. Like I said, they’re very similar movies. Whatever its faults may have been, I liked Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. I can say the same thing about The Nice Guys.
You know, I just mentioned faults, and now I’m trying hard to think of what those faults were. I don’t think I can talk about them without talking about specific scenes from the movie. Since it’s the first scene, more or less… I have trouble with movies making use of the ‘beautiful dead woman’ trope. Here’s the link to the relevant trope (the image there may be disturbing). If that shit really gets your goat, maybe you don’t want to watch this movie? I got past it and could enjoy the rest of the movie at least in part because it was played as a moment of absurdity, but it was a frustrating bit of “this again?” right at the start. Suffice to say that this movie is not exactly pushing boundaries in the same way that movies like The Heat or Spy do.
On the other hand, I’m pretty sure that it passes the Bechdel test, and Angourie Rice’s character (Holly March, tween daughter of Ryan Gosling’s Holland March) totally steals the show… or at least the scenes that she’s in, which is a fair number of them. And damnit, the movie is funny. I worried that the trailer I’d seen might have had all the choicest film moments, all the places that would really make me laugh, while the rest of the movie would be drab by comparison. That wasn’t the case. There were certainly times when I recognized that something funny was about to happen because I remembered it from the trailer, but at least as often something hilarious happened out of the blue and left me laughing or chuckling. And in case you’re worried beacuse I haven’t mentioned how well Gosling and Crowe play together on screen, worry not. The two of them are delightful. As are basically all the other people on the screen (ahem, Yaya DaCosta).
On the whole, I’d say that this movie is worth watching. In many ways, it feels like a game that I’d enjoy running, or maybe like slightly different version of a series of games that I did run years ago. Damn. And now I want to run more RPGs again.