The Nice Guys: An Informal Review

Well, hello there,

Those of you who know me well know that I’ve spent my life watching movies. Pop culture references, 7 degrees of whoever, and movie quotes have been shoved into my brain, only to reappear during the appropriate social situation. I inherited this strange affliction for trivia from my mom. We’re essentially Lorelai and Rory Gilmore, consistently astonishing my dad with our capability to have entire conversations that could be transcribed as: “That one guy from that one movie?” “Oh no, you’re thinking of him. I was talking about the other guy.” “Oh yeah! Love him!”

So, I only found it fitting to express my love for movies on my blog. This is, after all, a space for me to use as a creative outlet. And since I’m the world’s biggest critic, I might as well write down my thoughts and share them with you. That being said, please take everything I say as opinion, and I’d love to hear yours about the films I review.

I really wanted to set the tone of this review series to make me seem a little more pretentious, though I know the occasional chick-flick or rom-com will make its way onto this list, so don’t you fret. Today, I’d like to discuss the Shane Black and Anthony Bagarozzi film, The Nice Guys.

I remember in May of last year, a video interview popped into my YouTube subscription box. It was Jack Howard interviewing Shane Black, co-creator of The Nice Guys. I remember watching it and feeling incredibly inspired to make my own film someday. I loved seeing the excitement in Jack’s eyes as he discussed how beautiful the film was and how much it inspired him. I vaguely remember Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe promoting the show on a few late night television circuits as well, but those never interested me much because the thought of Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe in a film together completely baffled and confused me.

I had mentioned wanting to see it, but never really got around to it as the time went on, and suddenly, it was February 2017 and I was lazily scrolling through HBONow and I came across the bright 1970s mustard and orange logo, and I thought to myself, “I heard this was a masterpiece. Maybe I should watch it.” And then I did, and I was completely hooked.

The beginning is weird, if not almost irrelevant, but it completely sets the tone for this comedic-noir film. A kid (the kid from Jurassic Park) sneaks into his dad’s porn stash (not to be confused with porn-stache, which everyone donned in 1970s Los Angeles) and as he’s taking a peak at the centerfold, the model’s car rolls down the canyon and crashes into the kid’s backyard. It then transitions from her naked, dying body to a children’s instructional video on adjectives as the perfect introduction to Crowe’s character, Jackson Healy, a brute enforcer hired by people to beat up their enemies, drug dealers, or stalkers.

I understand all of that might not make sense to you, or a 70s porno mag might not be the thrilling beginning you need to get comfortable watching a movie, but it’s the tone of it all that sucked me in. From the first shot, you get this feeling of nostalgia. They perfectly display (I can only assume) the adult film industry in 1970s Hollywood and the criminal cheating and dealing going on on the inside. I also feel that beginning is exactly what the writers needed to portray the dark-comedy that this film really is.

Crowe and Gosling, surprisingly create the perfect comedic duo in this take on a classic noir. Crowe, who I’ve always seen as a macho-man from Australia, and Gosling, the pretty boy from the Mickey Mouse club, are actually hysterical. They present each and every quip with straight-faces and perfect timing. Gosling’s character, Holland March, a drunk, widower, single-father turned Private Investigator, has ridiculous banter with his 13-year-old daughter, Holly that pulls a sense of modernity into the almost-silly plot points of the film. Every conversation shared between actors, from the beginning sucker-punch to the ending note is embellished with dry sarcasm, eye-rolls, and insults that guarantee a chuckle every time.

The film has heart too, though. The character of March’s daughter, Holly (Angourie Rice), is played with sincerity and attitude. She follows her father around as a sort of self-appointed bodyguard, which leads to many mishaps, but also positively enforces him to be a better person. Her honest intentions and stubbornness when it comes to her father is heart-warming and provides a great balance to both the drunken antics of March’s characters and the rough-and-tough attitude of Healy. Through Holly, we see a softer side in both men, which makes their characters even more realistic and likeable.

I don’t know! This movie just made me feel good. I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish. Sean was shocked when I watched it a second time. I think, despite the gratuitous nudity and violence (although it was realistic to the time and place), it was just so visually stimulating for me. Everything from hair and wardrobe to architecture and music through me back to the era where cigarette smoking and excessive drinking was just a part of daily life. I appreciated the fact that his 13-year-old daughter could drive him home from the bar and that he could wear a paisley shirt with bell-bottomed pants.

The most memorable scene, in my opinion, was the party scene that took place smack in the middle of the film. The characters are on a hunt for adult-film actress, Amelia, and they trace her whereabouts back to an industry party. They immediately roll up to see a pony covered in glitter. Obviously, this was my favorite part. No, but the party continues like a seizure inducing swirl of color, similar to the can-can scenes from Moulin Rouge. As March’s character continues to drink unknown things from the painted girls at the bar, you’re flashed between drunken scenes of him and sober Healy finding clues and traces of their young actress. It all leads up to March falling off a balcony and rolling into a few VERY important plot points. I think that’s the part where the action really begins.

I hope I didn’t spill too many spoilers. Like I said, I’m brand new at this whole movie-reviewing gig. Sean told me it was like a book report in school, and I nearly gagged. Book reports were the bane of my existence in school. haha! But I do love movies, and I love to discuss the things I loved (or hated) about movies. And I sincerely hope my discussions will help you watch films from a new perspective.

Please, please let me know in the comments how you felt about this format. Should I go into more detail? Should I include more specific scenes? Also, have you seen The Nice Guys? What are your thoughts? Let me know!

Thanks, as always, for reading xo


Amanda Jean

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