See more of the story

If there was any doubt, there isn't anymore: Ryan Gosling is a big, big movie star.

Gosling's humor, intelligence and charisma are well used in "The Fall Guy," in which he plays a rarity in post-1970s movies: a straight-up, Jimmy Stewart-level, old-fashioned, no-ambiguity-about-it good guy. He's Colt Seavers, a name that sounds like it's straight out of gay porn but is, in fact, borrowed from the 1980s television series "The Fall Guy," whose hero, played by Lee Majors, was also a movie stuntman named Colt Seavers.

I never saw the series but I'm guessing the movie is more tongue-in-cheek. Taking place on a movie ("Metalstorm") set in and near Sydney, Australia, "The Fall Guy" messes around with movie tropes and often winks at us, as if to let us in on the goofy movie-within-a-movie premise. In one scene, for instance, "Metalstorm" director Jody (Emily Blunt) asks stunt guy Colt how he feels about split-screen shots, at which point "The Fall Guy" switches to split-screen shots of the two of them. And when Colt shows up on the "Metalstorm" set, Jody fills him in on the romantic back story of the scene they're shooting but what she's really doing is talking about their former relationship, which he bailed on.

Gosling and Blunt have the same teasing, flirty chemistry here as they did in this year's Oscar highlight, when they performed banter that was scripted by Gosling. That's a good thing, since the romantic element of "Fall Guy" is a little thin and the nimble Blunt isn't given enough to do.

The script, credited to Drew Pearce and the late Glen A. Larson (who wrote the TV show), is a busy affair, with tons of great stunts (director David Leitch got his start as a stuntman), a mystery Colt must solve (the star of "Metalstorm," for whom he's the stunt double, has disappeared and Colt is tasked with finding him) and a satire of Hollywood's amoral vanity, in addition to the rom-com element.

Packing in all of that makes "The Fall Guy" unwieldy, with what seems to be an ending that's followed by 30 more minutes of mayhem, but it also makes it feel like it contains just about everything you'd want in a summer movie. (Yes, Hollywood believes summer has started.)

There are other actors who'd be believable as a stuntman and there might be a couple who could pull off the quirky blend of sincerity and snark that Gosling brings to Colt. But I can't think of anyone who could do all of that and also make us invest emotionally in this seemingly ridiculous character, who's given an effective scene in which he reveals why he bailed on Jody and another in which he sobs while listening to Taylor Swift's "All Too Well" (Jake Gyllenhaal, the heel about whom Swift wrote the you-done-me-wrong song, will be grateful to have the movie take some of the attention off him).

It's not exactly news that Gosling is incredibly charming and versatile — he pulled off a similar high-wire act eight years ago in the noir comedy "The Nice Guys," which should have been a hit — but there is an ease and confidence in "The Fall Guy" that is new. Maybe messing around with his image in "Barbie" freed him up to embrace what it means to be a movie star? Whatever it is, it's good news for movie fans.

'The Fall Guy'

*** out of 4 stars

Rated: PG-13 for language and violence.

Where: In theaters.