The Nice Guys end is darker than you realize

The Nice Guys end is darker than you realize ...

Shane Blacks happily unkempt The Nice Guys, both onscreen and off. In a better timeline, we would be on our third or fourth go-round with Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe as undeservedly smug private eyes, but as for The Nice Guys, it was disappointingly disappointing at the box office, for many.

So, re-visits to the Nice Guys Detective Agency will never be in the cards. Nonetheless, Blacks sardonic buddy film has remained a popular topic over the last six years, even attaining the top spot on Netflix's Top 10 algorithm.

The Nice Guys concludes with a smirk and a sneer from Goslings Holland March about his two-shot encounter with Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe). From there, the film's last moments are filled with self-aware nods to the audience, right down to Holland passing his daughter Holly (Angourie Rice), who deserves much more than chaperoning these two knuckleheads at the watering hole during school hours.

Like much of the rest of the film, which can perfectly marry the good vibes of Earth, Wind & Fire with Gosling's pitch perfect Lou Costello impressionis so funny that you can't help but notice the weeping despair underneath. For example, Gosling is all but bellowing who's on first?! after a group of relatively innocent individuals were systematically murdered by the Big Auto capitalists in Detroit.

March and Healy have reasons to be content, at least on a surface level, despite bumbling their way through several catastrophes. They recovered a film reel that implicates a DOJ prosecutor's role in the killing of at least four people, including the attorneys' own activist daughter, Amelia (Margaret Qualley). Amelia died, tragically, due to the machinations of her own mother. Is that a good thing?

March offers this bit of solace in the most striking line of the The Nice Guys epilogue: At least you're drinking again.

Healey's slurs are clearly wasted by Crowes, and it's great. It's funny, yet far, far from a pleasant conclusion.

The Nice Guys is a noir in its core, although neither in the style of the 40s and 50s film noir movement nor the 1970s neo noir revival. With The Nice Guys 1977 setting, Black pays homage to both periods of hardboiled crime fiction. However, this 77 San Fernando Valley setting is as much a nostalgia show for a filmmaker who moved to Southern California as a teenager in 1976.

The sentiment is stronger here than the mostly forgotten suicide hypnotic lines in Black's first script, Lethal Weapon. But the Nice Guys March and Healey, by contrast, are not good people. In a scene-stealing charisma of a young Angourie Rice, her onscreen father, played by Gosling, she replies, "I am a bad person." There's no snark or pity in the 11-year-olds' replies, but just a faint sense of

March and Healey being able to change Hollys mind at the end of the film is aided by Holly. In the final scenes of the film, Hollys own father, whom she previously dismissed as a useless lush, recovers the evidence that condemns executives within Detroits Big Three. Amusingly, it now reads, You will never be happy.

The real redemption of our heroes comes in the eyes of a child. Which is true. However, everything else they fought for is useless.

Healey, the one who starts drinking again, is from an arguably darker place than March, who has no daughter to at least put his shittiness to the test. In a flashback, his wife says, Jack, Im fucking your dad. Crowe's literal spit-take, with wine streaming down his quivering mouth, is an example of how surgically Black refuses to leave a single potential laugh on the table.

Healey is only seen drinking until the end of the film, and we learn later that he got on the wagon after the best moment of his life, which consisted of drunkenly confronting a thief who fired a shotgun into Healey's arm. Many of them merit it, like Goslings March, who is battered twice by Healey in their meet-up.

Healey's only characteristic other than his ability to offer professional service is his desire to deal with life with equanimity. He doesnt drink alcohol, doesnt cheat clients (unlike March), and is happy to give a Yoo-hoo from a young girl after sending her father to the hospital.

The film is done. In the final shot, March and Healey clap their hands, now as official partners and private dicks. March, the out of control drunkard of the pair, is holding a glass; Healey, who was previously on the wagon, is drinking straight from the bottle.

This underscores the true nihilistic heart of noir that runs throughout the film: Nice Guys will never win.

Before the closing toast, we hear the protagonists admit that Basingers hopelessly corrupt DOJ murderer was correct. You cant beat Detroit.

Healey laments that they'll be fired, and the car companies will remain scott-free. There's not enough evidence of collusion. Some went up, some went down. Nothing changes, just like she said.

March replies, "Look, they got away with it, great surprise." You know people are stupid, but theyre not that stupid. The point is, for the past five years, we've all driven electric automobiles from Japan.

The Nice Guys is leaning into your meta-knowledge of what will happen in the future. It's ironic because Detroit lost its automotive dominance in the United States, but not because the government cleaned house with corrupt capitalist interests. From the 1980s onward, larger capitalist forces from outside, including Japan, squeezed the Big Three. Even so, electric cars that dont contribute as much to pollution (and, as we later learned, climate change) remain a minority, with the same companies suppressing fossil fuel-free innovations

March's silver lining is as empty as he says, Nobody got hurt. His buddy counters, Some people got hurt. To which March responds, Im saying I think they died quickly, so I don't believe that they got hurt.

Nothing this pair did anything about Holly's love and respect. She's left standing idyll by the bars entrance, an idol of the latch key generations age, while Dad and the more forthright Uncle Healey return to the same old habits except Healeys become demonstrably worse than when he started drinking again, and more than Holland.

At least there is one.