Fish and Cherries Productions

Creative content from a mad mind.


Reel Snippets – The Nice Guys


Summary: The year is 1977. The place, Los Angeles. Holland March (Ryan Gosling) is an alcoholic private eye who occasionally takes jobs from the elderly for an easy buck. Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) is a thug for hire who beats the tar out of people for money, particularly if it involves little girls. The death of adult film star Misty Mountains (Murielle Telio) collides their worlds as Misty’s elderly aunt (Lois Glenn) hires March to look for her and a woman named Amelia (Margaret Qualley), while Amelia hires Healy by proxy to get March off her back. After the two meet (which ends in Healy breaking March’s arm), the two start to discover that there may be more to Misty’s death and Amelia’s disappearance than it seemed. With the help of March’s daughter Holly (Angourie Rice), they follow Amelia’s trail through an adult film conspiracy, dodging colorful antagonists (Beau Knapp, Keith David, Matt Bomer) and uncovering one hot political mess.

Review: The Nice Guys was the blackest of comedies and I loved every second of it. We have writer/director Shane Black to thank for this, who is well known for fusing darkness and humor from his other works, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Iron Man 3* (which I loved, but admittedly he couldn’t go as far as he could here for obvious reasons). The script has some great banter, which spark up under amazing chemistry between Crowe and Gosling, and the whole ordeal has some of the funniest slapstick I’ve ever seen in an adult oriented movie. Sure, there’s some serious and somber scenes and the tone shifts can sometimes be jarring, but they’re well-earned and serve the story to its benefit.

*These are just what Black has written and directed. His name is also attached to numerous 80s films and cult classics, including two of the Lethal Weapon films.

As amazing as the overall tone and dialogue is, I can’t go further without heaping praise on the character of Holly. This is one of the most well-written and amazing girl characters this side of Gosalyn Mallard from Darkwing Duck. She’s proactive, she’s intelligent, and she’s competent, but she has enough shortcomings to not be boringly perfect or a Mary Sue. It goes to show that even when telling a story about porn stars and rescuing women, you can still be forward thinking. And yes, for those who care, this does pass the Bechdel Test.

The style is very much film noir meets Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, mixing the hard-boiled narration and conventions with the bright colors and music of the 70s. If you took away their mannerisms and quirks, these guys would fall perfectly into the black and white film world of Humphrey Bogart and Jane Greer. But just because it’s an homage, doesn’t mean it falls into a conventional hole; it subverts a lot of tropes akin to film noir, buddy cop films, and much more. There’s a common story device in buddy cops films, for instance, where the two main characters have a falling out, go their separate ways to mope, and then come back together and reconcile. Here, that doesn’t happen because the two detectives start out hating each other and have nowhere to go but up.

While I recommend this movie with all my soul, it’s not for the faint of heart. If nudity, swearing, debauchery, alcoholism, or violence turns your stomach, then turn back because this movie bathes in all of it. But that just makes it authentic: the 70s were a time of rebellion and experimentation, which this movie embraces wholeheartedly. It’s a gumbo of styles that come out tasting great, so grab a bowl if you can handle the spice.

Fun Tidbit: If you’re anything like me, you probably thought of The Hobbit when you heard her name was “Misty Mountains.” Well, that’s not the only reference to Tolkein in this movie. March wears a ring on a chain around his neck like Frodo and at an adult film industry party, one of the people in costume is dressed as an ent, complete with stilts. Who knew there were so many nerds in the porn industry?

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