Sam's thoughts on The Nice Guys:
Los Angeles, 1977. The City of Angels feels hazy and distorted with cigarette smoke wafting indoors while the bright, California sun is filtered through a thick layer of smog. Morally, the lines feel blurred too with drugs readily available, porno theaters littering Hollywood Boulevard, and pimps and dealers on each street corner. It's in this pulpy, neo-noir (Retro-noir?) setting that a porn star is killed putting the story into motion.
At the center of The Nice Guys is two men who have largely forgotten who they are. Russell Crowe is a man that briefly flirted with heroism in his past but has now let himself go out of shape and cruise the San Fernando Valley as a low-rent enforcer for hire. Ryan Gosling is a man still reeling from the death of his wife and has to rely on his more mature and competent teenage daughter to ensure he keeps getting work as a private detective. These two figures initially find themselves on opposite sides of the tracks but working together when they realize they share the same goal.
Here's the kicker, though: This movie is funny, like really funny. It may very well be the funniest film I've seen in theaters this year and let me remind you that Deadpool came out 3 months ago. While Gosling has always shown what he's capable of in dramatic roles with star-making performances in Blue Valentine, Drive, and The Place Beyond the Pines (And, as someone that's had girlfriends since at least 2004, of course I've seen The Notebook), I've always thought he'd do well comedically and he totally proves that right here. Last year, we got a taste of Gosling's comedic chops in The Big Short, this time around, we get the main course and it delivers in full.
The humor isn't necessarily for everybody; this is Shane Black joint, after all, so things can get dark and violent and the humor itself can get sanguineous in every sense of the word. But I never found the violence particularly unsavory and off-putting; this flick is built to be a crowd-pleaser with frames saturated in color and all set to a groovy, 70s soundtrack.
In many ways, The Nice Guys is what Paul Thomas Anderson's adaptation of Inherent Vice should have been: an irreverent, wacky take on 70s crime fiction that isn't afraid to poke fun at the ludicrousness of it all. This is a good time at the movies.