Just Like Old Times

The Nice Guys

Stars: Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Matt Bomer, Margaret Qualley, Angourie Rice, Murielle Telio, Keith David, Kim Basinger, Beau Knapp, Yaya DaCosta, Gil Gerard, Lois Smith and Ty Simpkins
Director: Shane Black
Scriptwriters: Shane Black and Anthony Bagarozzi
Composers: David Buckley and John Ottman
Warner Brothers
Running Length: 115 minutes
Rating: R for language, nudity and drug use. Adult film

It’s nostalgia time and going back to the 1970’s and Los Angeles. Well, you think, it’s “Chinatown” again, but no, director/co-scriptwriter Shane Black (“Iron Man 3”) gives the audience a story about a private investigator, Holland March (Ryan Gosling), who teams up with a rough looking bag of muscle, Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) and away they go looking for a missing girl named Amelia (Margaret Qualley.) The atmosphere of L.A. then, with convertibles, who-trusts-who, who-is-chasing who and who-is-double crossing-who, blends with the film industry. There are serious times and there are humorous times and all with mayhem.

The movie begins with a young boy (Ty Simpkins) seeing a car accident. Then, comes the private eye, March (Gosling), taking on the case of a missing girl, Amelia (Qualley). She doesn't want anyone to find her, so she hires tough guy Jackson Healy (Crowe) to keep March away from her. March not only gets beat up including a broken arm, but more tough guys (Keith David and Beau Knapp) come on the scene and destroy his house. And so it goes, with danger following March, and soon he and Healy are working together. Along for comments is Holly (Angourie Rice) as March’s young, almost teenage, daughter. The P. I. and muscle guy are being chased by the bad guys (by now including Matt Bomer) trying to find a documentary on smog and trying to locate missing people. In the meantime, there are fights and chases.

What may be surprising---or not---is the camaraderie between Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe. Their comedy is akin to “Two Stooges.” Gosling provides the facial expressions and Crowe, the muscle and away they go like an askew “Odd Couple” in a convertible. Keith David as Older Guy and his partner in crime, Beau Knapp as Blue Face, are another duo on the edge of a bullet. As the lone muscle without a partner, Matt Bomer as John Boy, has to hold his own in the melee’s. The ladies do well, especially Angourie Rice as Holly, who sometimes seems to be the voice of reason.

Director Shane Black lets his cast do their thing and so we get a comedy duo from Crowe and Gosling, the dramatic Keith David being a hit man and Matt Bomer, not dancing, ("Magic Mike") but being another hit man. This is a hit first, ask questions later, film. Kim Basinger did appear in another movie about LA in the 1950‘s with Russell Crowe, “L. A. Confidential“ What goes around, comes around. For trivia fans, watch for Gil Gerard and Lois Smith in the cast. He was Buck Rogers in the late 1970's TV series, and she is a long time character actress from television and movies.

Copyright 2016 Marie Asner