March (Ryan Gosling) and Healy (Russell Crowe) are two private investigators out of their league as The Nice Guys.

Reel Reviews: Gosling, Crowe try to play nice

The Nice Guys, starring Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe as private investigators, is your best bet for fun at the box office at the moment.

A pair of mismatched private investigators, March (Ryan Gosling), single dad to a tween daughter, and hired muscle Healy (Russell Crowe) investigate the apparent murder and cover up of a porn star in 1970s’ Los Angeles.

We say, “It’s your best bet for fun.”

TAYLOR: I say, “give me some grit!” At least, I say that of the movies I tend to enjoy. I was looking forward to The Nice Guys because it looked gritty, yet light-hearted.

It’s not that the film doesn’t take itself seriously, but it’s not exactly film noir. Like The Big Lebowski, The Nice Guys is a mystery solved by idiots, in a time and place seemingly teeming with interesting misunderstandings. The grit is there, but it’s very polished, Hollywood grit.

HOWE: I will have to agree with you. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, but that is what makes this movie work.

The Nice Guys has all the right ingredients: the great cast, covers the plot points, right amount of action, little bit of silliness and a cracking ‘70s soundtrack. Whip them all up in a large mixing bowl and you have one very good movie.

I have noticed that with Russell Crowe, you either get a very poor acting display or a very good one. In this, he is good. Gosling proves once again he is a fine actor. If you want to see that Gosling is more than just a pretty face, check this out, or a couple of his older roles, either Lars and the Real Girl or The Place Beyond the Pines.

TAYLOR: I think Gosling has never acted more, or more convincingly than in this film. His comedic double takes and stifled screaming aside, there are moments where we can see what he’s thinking or feeling clearly expressed, powerfully.

The look of exhaustion at the end of the film is, by itself, worth the price of admission. But be warned, there is some Hollywood schlock in this film, particularly in the relationship everyone has with March’s tween daughter, Holly (Angourie Rice).

It’s not her performance, she’s quite convincing. But plot points brought up by dragging your kid around while your investigating porn murders are bothersome and Hollywood’s solution is to address it directly. So we come to be appreciative of murderous men who lie, invite them into our homes and become one ourselves. This is an impossible happy ending, so the film loses me at some point.

HOWE: I can’t believe you are knocking points off for that. I thought it was very appropriate for this film.

TAYLOR: I’m being picky, this is true. There are times when it’s fair to say, “shut up already, it’s just a movie.” Perhaps this is one of those times.

– Taylor gives The Nice Guys 3 more cigarettes out of 5.

– Howe gives it 4 elevator rides out of 5.

Brian Taylor and Peter Howe are film reviewers based in Vernon, B.C. Their column Reel Reviews appears in The Morning Star every Friday.

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