Making people laugh isn’t easy, so you have to give props to any comedy that can generate big belly laughs. It usually takes a combination of comedic performances, clever writing, steady direction and focused editing to make audience laugh throughout a film’s entire runtime. Shane Black’s The Nice Guys is a great example of how all these elements can come together to form a stellar comedy. A buddy cop noir set in the groovy 1970s, it’s a great showcase for Black’s cool style and two great performances from Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe. It may not be about superheroes or dinosaurs, but this is one movie that you definitely do not want to miss this summer.

The year is 1977. Jackson Healy (Crowe)is a tough enforcer who will take any job that comes his way, while Holland March (Gosling) is a bumbling private investigator who can only seem to get hired by lonely old women. When March is hired by a woman to find her missing niece (Margaret Qualley), the two men are put on a collision course with each other. And while their initial meeting ends with a disagreement (as well as some broken bones), these “nice guys” end up working together to find this young woman and protect her from a group of men who seem to be killing everyone in their path. Their investigation exposes corruption and conspiracy at some of the highest levels of power, but they’ll need to figure out how to work together without killing one another if they want to solve the case.

First and foremost, The Nice Guys is a comedy and in that regard, it’s a huge success. Funny from its opening minutes all the way to its final scene, the film’s humor hardly ever misses a beat. Whether it’s the broad humor of dumping a body over a cliff and onto a dinner table, clever one-liners or even some of the more bizarre moments, practically every joke sticks the landing. No doubt Shane Black had a big part in this, but the film wouldn’t have been nearly as funny if it wasn’t for his two lead performances. Crowe is excellent in the role, delivering one of his most natural performances in years. He may not get the most laughs, but he’s the perfect foil to Gosling’s high-strung character. After having focused on overly serious roles for the last few years, it’s great to see Gosling let his comedic chops fly. He’s truly hilarious in the film and he’s responsible for the majority of the film’s big laughs. Whether it’s him cutting his hand while breaking into a building or trying to scream after finding a corpse, Gosling elevates every joke that he’s attached to.

Recreating a noir in its feeling, location and story, Black’s third feature is intentionally hard to follow, filled with so many characters and twists that it practically begs for repeat viewings. This is perfectly fine because The Nice Guys is such a good time that you’ll want to see it again regardless. Crowe and Gosling are so great together that a sequel actually seems like a great idea. It would be great to revisit this strange and hilarious world of the 1970s with two actors who I could watch work together all day. They’re like sugar and spice and The Nice Guys is everything nice.

The Nice Guys receives 3.5/4

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