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Film Review: ‘The Nice Guys’ - Variety

Variety: In “The Nice Guys,” a smashingly disreputable mystery-comedy free-for-all directed with a wink of trashy zest by Shane Black, Russell Crowe plays a freelance thug for hire — the sort of guy who will keep your teenage daughter from dating a druggie sleazebag by paying a visit to the sleazebag’s house and bashing him in the face with brass knuckles. (It’s amazing how effective that is.) The films tosses Crowe together with a sweetly shambling private detective, played by Ryan Gosling, who’s as earnest and inept as his new partner is brusquely violent. It’s 1977, and these two cruise around Los Angeles against a backdrop of polyester boogie-nights tackiness, busting heads, crashing parties, fleeing hit men, and getting to the dirty bottom of a conspiracy that somehow combines the adult-film underworld with a scheme by the Big Three automakers to suppress the catalytic converter. (Yes, it’s a PC message movie gone flesh.) “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. The movie is likely to score big with audiences, and for the same reason that it’s proven to be a perfect palette cleanser at Cannes. It’s a treat to see popcorn this decadent made by people who know exactly what they’re doing.

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