Ryan Gosling in a physical action-comedy? Whoever thought of the idea should be crowned genius of the year. With dynamite timing and uproarious gestures, Gosling mines his diverse abilities and becomes a blast in The Nice Guys.
The Nice Guys, which the screenwriter also directed, is the best of Black’s films. It is eccentrically, sometimes broadly funny, with top-notch performances from Crowe and Gosling and a pitch-perfect sense of timing to help smooth over some of the script’s fault lines and blind spots.
The Nice Guys is an ultra-violent burlesque, the sort of cheerfully hostile buddy bash that’s been a staple since the ’80s, only this one is singularly clever about its own triviality, and it offers the scruffy pleasure of seeing two great actors dial down their gravitas with style.
[Black] creates some outrageously contrived and protracted shootouts and one or two good old fashioned action explosions. But he also keeps the dialogue cracking along.
Think of The Nice Guys as candy noir: all the key ingredients from mysteries such as Chinatown and The Long Goodbye poured into a tall glass, then topped up with sugar syrup, a spritz of club soda, a sprig of mint and an ironic paper parasol.
The Nice Guys delivers enough brilliant physical comedy to smooth over its blunter narrative devices.
There’s a tipping point at which comedy goes from black to bilious, and that’s a balancing act that The Nice Guys doesn’t always nail. The laughs from this frequently entertaining action comedy get stuck in the throat, keeping this altogether good movie from being a great one.
The New Yorker
Why see this film? Partly because of the leading men, but mainly because of a girl. An Australian actress named Angourie Rice plays March’s daughter, Holly, who is thirteen.
The Nice Guys harks back to the 70s golden age of revisionist detective thrillers, but the result feels too knowingly déja vu, rather than bringing a truly fresh angle.
The Hollywood Reporter
That the film mostly falls flat has far more to do with the largely unconvincing material rather than with the co-stars, who are more than game for often clownish shenanigans Black and his co-writer Anthony Bagarozzi have concocted for them; in fit and starts, the actors display a buoyant comic rapport.