Daniel McFadden
Chris Nashawaty
May 17, 2016 AT 10:37 PM EDT

The Nice Guys

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
runtime
115 minutes
Wide Release Date
05/20/16
performer
Ryan Gosling, Russell Crowe
director
Shane Black
genre
Action, Comedy, Crime

We gave it a B

Shane Black didn’t invent the Hollywood buddy action flick, but as a hot-hand screenwriter back in the ’80s and ’90s he certainly elevated it to hilarious new meta heights with Lethal Weapon and The Long Kiss Goodnight. Since then Black has reemerged as a versatile director equally at home with quippy, rat-a-tat neo-noirs (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) and quippy superhero juggernauts (Iron Man 3). His gift is turning clichéd macho patter into winking, smart-aleck poetry, but in his latest film, the ’70s L.A. detective caper The Nice Guys, there’s some zip missing from his fastball. It’s funny, but not as funny as it wants to be. Co-written with Anthony Bagarozzi, Black’s film pairs Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe as low-rent Tinseltown private eyes who spend as much time stringing along clients as they do sniffing for clues. These two slightly dim bulbs start as oil-and-water adversaries but join forces (along with the teen daughter of Gosling’s character nicely played by Angourie Rice) to crack the connected cases of a dead porn star and a missing girl who may or may not be caught up in a political conspiracy. Basically, it’s Inherent Vice without the highbrow aspirations, or The Big Lebowski with two Dudes. Gosling and Crowe have a surprisingly fizzy, ferret-and-bull chemistry, and the hedonistic Me Decade setting is groovy. Gosling wears a parade of leisure suits, while Crowe’s paunch tests his Hawaiian shirt’s buttons. But the one-liners and shoot-outs feel a bit threadbare, handed down from older, better Shane Black movies. B

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