39. The Nice Guys

I think this movie has one of the worst titles in history. Nothing about “The Nice Guys” accurately depicts what Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling’s characters are like in the movie, and there’s really no reference to “Nice Guys” at any time until the end. I often get confused and mistakenly call this movie “The Good Guys,” and anytime someone asks me if I’ve seen “The Nice Guys” (which is rare) I can’t remember what they’re talking about until they mention Crose and Gosling. It’s a terrible, terrible title, which is a shame, because this movie is so, so wonderful.

Perfectly capturing a seedy LA noir vibe with biting humor and lovable characters, The Nice Guys is a fresh jolt of energy into the cop/crime genre. Crowe and Gosling play too unwilling, unwitting and seemingly incapable private eyes hired to track down a missing girl amidst a gritty LA underbelly lined with porn stars and two-bit gangsters in three-piece suits. Nothing about the plot is particularly memorable, but it just coasts so nicely like Gosling’s top-down convertible on the highway. Two of the best scenes occur when Crowe and Gosling inspect a mansion party filled with pornstars and a hotel in Burbank for leads. There’s just a natural joy that sparks form watching these two explore their surroundings with equal amounts skepticism and sarcasm.

Crowe and Gosling’s chemistry is so pungent it seeps off the screen straight into your entertainment orifices. Angourie Rice, who plays Gosling’s daughter in the movie, steals the show anytime she’s on screen, and will be a face to remember in the upcoming decades. Director Shane Black balances just the right amount of 70s nostalgia, not overloading us with bell bottom pants or disco, even though there is plenty of that. We get that this is a movie in the 70s but not necessarily a 70s movie. But there’s a certain charm from that era that fills the corners of the screen with extra color while Crowe and Gosling are filling the center with life. Yeah baby, we can dig it.

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