‘The Nice Guys’
Director: Shane Black
Stars: Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling
5 (out of 5) Globes
The mystery yarn in “The Nice Guys” may be only worth half-following, as they so often are in detective fiction. But every second demands your attention. It’s a brightly colored confection breathlessly crammed with goodies. Watching it you can picture its makers — director Shane Black and his co-writer Anthony Bagarozzi — agonizing over the script’s every inch: making sure each quip was jot-down-able, each plot turn surprising, each plant given a showstopping payoff. In an era of sloppy blockbusters that settle for stuff and clang, it’s a meticulous entertainment with a serious case of OCD.
If that makes “The Nice Guys” sound like Wes Anderson for assholes, then that’s a disservice: It manages the illusion of feeling shaggy dog, even as every “i” is crossed and “t” dotted. It helps to have jazzy interpeters of the script’s sacred text. Russell Crowe is all low growls and doughy shambling about as Jackson Healy, a bright blue-jacketed “enforcer” in 1970s Los Angeles who’s not above taking jobs from teens to beat up other teens. Jackson winds up mired in a convoluted missing person case that gradually unearths a bigger conspiracy involving politicians, snappily-dressed hitmen and the then-thriving Detroit auto industry. So does doofus P.I. Holland March (Ryan Gosling), whose meet-cute with his buddy movie buddy involves Jackson barging into his swank rental home and calmly, efficiently breaking his arm.