“Despite a cinematographic orgy that delicately takes viewers back to a retro 1970s look, “The Nice Guys” can’t overcome a slow, boring start with one-dimensional characters. Russell Crowe’s big-screen forte is masterminding others misfortune, not spewing one-liners in a crime comedy.”
Patrick King, REEL BRIEF
Far out clothes and vintage Hollywood party scenes aren’t enough to save this latest Russell Crowe film from box office disaster. Fellow new release “The Angry Birds Movie” clinched this past weekend’s top spot with nearly $40 million, followed by 2016’s highest grossing film so far–the resilient “Captain America: Civil War” ($34M). But most troubling to Warner Bros. and Crowe has to be the fact that “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” landed in third place with $22 million…crushing “The Nice Guys” with twice the ticket sales from moviegoers.
Co-starring opposite Anna Kendrick’s Twitter love interest Ryan Gosling, the former “Gladiator” (2000) Crowe plays a hired heavy paid to dole out punishment on others in 1977 Los Angeles. Gosling plays small-time private eye Holland March and reluctantly teams up with Crowe’s bruiser character, Jackson Healy, to investigate the disappearance of a woman who goes missing into the Hollywood nightlife.
Despite a cinematographic orgy that delicately takes viewers back to a retro 1970s look, “The Nice Guys” can’t overcome a slow, boring start with one-dimensional characters. Russell Crowe’s big-screen forte is masterminding others misfortune, not spewing one-liners in a crime comedy. Thankfully, Gosling’s comedic timing is spot-on throughout.
The film’s biggest drawback, though, is the lack of audience investment in either of the Crowe or Gosling detective roles. The film’s director and writer Shane Black (“Iron Man 3”) deserves credit for starting the story off so raw, minus any narration or set-up. Missing a quick background on the main players, however, costs Black valuable screen time (already pushing 2 hours) and tests viewer patience. But in the end, Black nicely ties together every loose end and hidden joke for an impressive, encyclopedic storyline from start to finish.
Less about sleuthing for answers to a missing girl than a budding bromance between two Hollywood heavy-weight actors, “The Nice Guys” crosses the finish line intact. Do we know more about either Jackson Healy (Crowe) or Holland March (Gosling)? Hardly. Do we care? Barely. This whodunit crime mystery delivers on two fronts—taking the audience back forty-years on film to a simpler time in America and dishing out groovy punch lines. Unfortunately, neither is enough to keep audiences psyched through a sedated first hour that’s “for the birds”. Let me do you a solid, wait for this throwback on DVD.
“The Nice Guys” is rated R for violence, sexuality, nudity, language and brief drug use. Its running time is 1 hour and 56 minutes.
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