Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5. USA, 2016. Misty Mountains, Bloom, Lipsync Productions, Nice Guys, Silver Pictures, Waypoint Entertainment. Screenplay by Shane Black, Anthony Bagarozzi. Cinematography by Philippe Rousselot. Produced by Joel Silver. Music by David Buckley, John Ottman. Production Design by Richard Bridgland. Costume Design by Kym Barrett. Film Editing by Joel Negron.
A hired thug (Russell Crowe, more lighthearted than he’s been in years) is hired by a young woman to keep a couple of guys off her tail; this leads him to a private investigator (Ryan Gosling, playing the clown to perfection) whose ineptitude reaches Inspector Clouseau levels who has been hired to find the same young woman by an elderly woman (Lois Smith, still marvelous) who has mistaken her for her own deceased porn star granddaughter. The two men team up after a few nasty beatings and end up on an ever spiraling quest that leads them to secrets involving the head of the justice department (an elegant Kim Basinger, reunited with her L.A. Confidential co-star), the health of the Detroit auto industry and the underground porn scene in Los Angeles. Angourie Rice is superb as Gosling’s pre-teen daughter who tends to outsmart the grown men who keep telling her to stay behind and avoid trouble, while Shane Black infuses the script with all the insouciant humour of his excellent Sass-And-Smacks comedy Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. There’s something a bit too desperate about the complex plotting, as if Black and co-screenwriter Anthony Bagarozzi know that they can’t come up with something as mesmerizing as Chinatown so they just keep throwing in as many distracting details as possible, but as lightweight as the film is, watching these guys have fun is enough to forgive the lasting impression the project fails to make.