The King of buddy comedies, Shane Black, is back. His latest movie, The Nice Guys follows Private Investigator Holland March (Ryan Gosling) and Enforcer Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) in their attempts to find a missing girl called Amelia (Margaret Qualley), who's somehow linked to the death of porn star Misty Mountains (Murielle Telio).
As with the other buddy comedies written by Black like Lethal Weapon and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, the movie is reliant on the relationship between the two leads and The Nice Guys doesn't disappoint! Crowe and Gosling work very well together, not only are they believable in the portrayal of their respective characters, their antics are also highly amusing. If you didn't know better you'd think Crowe was reprising his role of Bud White from L.A. Confidential. Oddly enough, this is the first time Crowe and Basinger have worked together since L.A. Confidential. Gosling's character shares traits with characters from Black's past projects as well as one of TV's most popular Private Detectives; Jim Rockford (James Garner) of The Rockford Files and yet at the same time Gosling has managed to bring an original character to the screen. Holland March is a widower and a former Police Officer much like Martin Riggs, he's a drunk, low life (borderline degenerate) Private Detective like Joe Hallenbeck (Bruce Willis) from The Last Boyscout. March's daughter Holly (Angourie Rice) tries to get involved in the case like Hallenbeck's daughter Darian, although Holly isn't an angry brat like Darian. Much like Jim Rockford, March keeps his gun in a cookie jar and his advert in the Yellow Pages is virtually identical to Rockford's.
But don't think for a second that this movie is just a rehash of popular movies and TV shows. The Nice Guys, which does feature tributes to other classics is very much its own movie and has been described as a combination of madcap comedy and American corporation corruption. Set in 1977, the story revolves around the L.A. smog, the Detroit Motor Industry and the introduction of the catalytic converter. Kim Basinger plays Judith Kutner, a Prosecutor with the Department of Justice and Amelia's mother, she hires March and Healy to find her daughter. But what begins as a simple missing persons case soon turns into an investigation into corruption, murder and greed of government and big business.
Atlanta and Decatur, Georgia stood in for 1970's Los angeles, although some scenes were filmed in the city itself. Setting the story in 1977 was a good choice as certain elements wouldn't work in the modern world of social media and YouTube. The result of all this is a buddy comedy/thriller with comic undertones and thanks to the 70's setting some trippy ways of thinking. Mike Ryan of Uproxx said: "if you like Shane Black you will like The Nice Guys. It's probably the Shane Black-est of Shane Black movies." With a 91% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and 4/5 stars from Empire and Total Film, The Nice Guys is on track to becoming not only one of Shane Black's best movies but one of the best movies of 2016.