‘The Nice Guys’ on HBO Now

Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, and Angourie Rice in Shane Black's 'The Nice Guys'

For The Nice Guys (2016), Shane Black, who helped remake the modern American action movie with his screenplays Lethal Weapon and The Last Boy Scout, slips into flashback mode for a tribute to the old school action movies and private eye thrillers of the 1970s mixed with Black’s knowing sense of humor.

Ryan Gosling is Holland March, a screw-up of a private eye in a constant alcohol stupor, still reeling from the death of his wife and a lousy (if loving) father to his whipsmart-beyond-her-years adolescent daughter (Angourie Rice). Russell Crowe, who has gotten heavy in his middle years, is heavy-for-hire Jackson Healy, a man with a code even as he skirts the law with his own fistfuls of justice. So no, they’re not really nice guys but they are a match made in buddy movie heaven and they are on a longshot hunt for the missing daughter of the Los Angeles DA (Kim Basinger) that takes them to the mansion of a porn kingpin and land them in the crosshairs of a trio of hitmen.

It’s a bit sloppy as private eye movies go and Black is all over the place, with slapstick antics (including Gosling doing a wheezing Lou Costello in one bit that probably sounded better in the pitch meeting) mixed in with his smart-ass attitude, exaggerated seventies style crimes, splashy action scenes, and a tongue-in-cheek approach to tough guy tropes. But Black likes his characters and loves the genre and that’s enough to make the tribute / pastiche / affection parody work. Not as well as his superior Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, mind you, but better than you might expect.

It’s rated R for all the reasons you’d expect.

Watch it on HBO Now, HBO Go, or HBO On Demand

Also on Blu-ray and DVD and on SVOD through Amazon Prime, iTunes, GooglePlay, and other services.
The Nice Guys [DVD]
The Nice Guys [Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Ultraviolet Combo Pack]

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The Blu-ray and DVD releases include two very brief EPK-style featurettes. The Blu-ray also features bonus DVD and Ultraviolet Digital HD copies of the film.

About Sean Axmaker

Sean Axmaker is a contributing writer for Turner Classic Movies Online, The Seattle Weekly, Keyframe, and Cinephiled, and the editor of Parallax View (www.parallax-view.org). He was a film critic for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer for nine years and a longtime home video columnist for IMDb and MSN Movies, and his work has appeared in Indiewire, Today.com, The Stranger, Senses of Cinema, Asian Cult Cinema, Filmfax, Psychotronic Video, and "The Scarecrow Video Guide." You can find links to all of this and more on his shamelessly self-promoting blog at http://www.seanax.com/

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