Russell Crowe and Kim Basinger: A Dame in Distress in The Nice Guys

Okay. So The Nice Guys is a Russell Crowe / Ryan Gosling film bromance, a hilarious romp, featuring car chases galore, broken glass and bones, bloody bodies, and a startling, zombied Matt Bomer. Still, there's a touch of nostalgia for an early Russell Crowe who came to the aid of Kim Basinger in a film set in Los Angeles. Remember L. A. Confidential (1997)? In The Nice Guys, Basinger plays a smallish but pivotal role, yet another character in search of a young woman named Amelia (Margaret Qualley). She, a misguided, rebellious porn star, just happens to be her daughter, and Basinger's job is head of the government's clean up squad. Talk about acting out.

Mother-daughter relationships are often fraught, but in this movie the revelation is the Freudian Electra bond, a young woman named Angourie Rice who plays Gosling's Holland March's daughter, Holly. Fresh-faced, driving dad around, she's wise beyond her underage years, and she's loyal, a central conceit of this film, making Gosling's bungling acceptable. He's the skinny sidekick to Crowe's thicker Jackson Healy, Laurel to his Hardy. And Crowe has moments of the sweet, compassion and naiveté of that early movie, only now he's more boozy and knowing, but hey, we like him too. They're nice guys, right?

At last week's special Metrograph screening, the male stars joined writer/director Shane Blackand producer Joel Silver onstage. The house was packed: notably a chic crowd, plus filmmakers Barry Levinson and J. C. Chandor. A party ensued at Metrograph's upstairs restaurant space, with skylights offering a unique view. But by then, Crowe, Gosling, and Bomer had split.

A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.