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Senior Correspondent

‘The Nice Guys’: Disco Doldrums

‘The Nice Guys’: Disco Doldrums

Misty Mountains

Moviegoers recognize that trailers are basically a form of publicly sanctioned lying. Filmmakers will do just about anything to make their next release come off as a gotta-see-it necessity.

Given this tendency toward fudging the facts, the trailer for “The Nice Guys” is brutally honest.

It makes the film look like a loser. Which is exactly what it is.

Directed and co-written by Shane Black (with a writing assist from Anthony Bagarozzi), this action comedy wants to emulate the violent comic nexus exemplified by the old Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy pair-up “48 Hrs.”

With stars Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling and a late 1970s disco-drenched atmosphere, “The Nice Guys” seems promising. But its thrills and laughs are modest at best.

Cop-turned-private eye Holland March (Gosling) meets muscle, Jackson Healy (Crowe) when the latter is hired to break the former’s arm. Nothing personal — someone wants Holland to give up his search for a missing deb named Amelia (Margaret Qualley of HBO’s “The Leftovers”).

Despite this not-promising initial encounter, Holland and Jackson find themselves teaming up to locate the missing girl and uncover a vast criminal conspiracy.

They’re odd bedfellows. Jackson is a human fireplug with a slow burn and a calculating style. Holland is a boozy jerk who succeeds more by luck than perseverance.

Rounding out the team is Holland’s young daughter, Holly (Angourie Rice), a fearless young soul who provides the two grown men with a moral compass.

Having sat through “The Nice Guys” less than 12 hours ago, I must report that I can remember very little about the movie. It made that great an impression.

Oh, I get fleeting flashbacks of ghastly ’70s fashions, of cocaine-fuelled parties in uber-modern hilltop Hollywood mansions. And at one point Gosling delivers a perfectly credible series of Lou Costello double takes.

But the good guys aren’t particularly compelling. Nor are the bad guys and the mystery at the film’s heart.

“Good Guys” isn’t awful enough to deride. Just wholly uninspired.

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