Fate turns Holland March, a down-on-his-luck private eye and Jackson Healy, a hired enforcer into unlikely partners when a woman mysteriously disappears.
Filmmaker Shane Black - writer of Lethal Weapon, Predator and director of Iron Man 3 offers a dark comedy with a Chinatown-like detective story. The Nice Guys is set in 1977 on an LA sleazy vibe back drop which is convincingly recreated, topped off with the music of the time.
With their own reasons for getting involved the duo team up to achieve one shared goal both reliant on each other's different skills. It's a different era of wild celebrity disco parties, cigarette smoking and lenient police involvement, allowing unlikely partnership of drunkard PI Holland (Ryan Gosling) and Jackson (Russell Crowe) paid hard man to go about their business. What's interesting and surprisingly works is Holland's young teen daughter (Angourie Rice) who helps her dad and dicey new partner as they investigate the murder of a porn star, Misty Mountains and its mysterious link to environmentalist wild-child Amelia (Margaret Qualley) and politically connected mother, Judith (Kim Basinger).
It feels likes it's all shot on location, the period setting is at times the star of show, injecting plenty of atmosphere and mood, the cars, the fashion etc. The supporting cast a great, notable are the excellent Matt Bomer (White Collar, American Horror Story Hotel) who plays a professional hit man and thug Keith David (The Thing, They Live) who want Amelia dead. Black offers corruption, some surprise deaths and twists but it's a comedy at heart. Gosling and Crowe are kind of 70s version of Laurel and Hardy, yelping and mumbling through scenes. Their chemistry is great, it's an interesting and brilliant casting with the leads displaying a naturally comedic zaniness along with Crowe adding a believability that he can bust heads.
Thankfully Black and writer Anthony Bagarozzi create enough back- story for Holland and Jackson to ensure your buy into the characters' plights as they work through clues looking like Starsky and Hutch in Boogie Nights. Both Gosling and Crowe somehow feel they belong to the period. Rice equals Leon's Natalie Portman in terms of a young girl being in an improbable adult world. Gosling is disinclined to being a good dad, in contrast to Crowe's deadpan character wanting to be liked and you find yourself rooting for the at times unsavoury characters.
With its period setting, some hard hitting action and taboo comedy there's plenty of entertainment to be had, recommended.