The Nice Guys Film Review

Film Review by Jon E Clist

The Premise
Set against the backdrop of 1977 Los Angeles, The Nice Guys opens when single father and licensed PI Holland March (Gosling) is hired to investigate the apparent suicide of famous porn star Misty Mountains. As the trail leads him to track down a girl named Amelia (Qualley), he encounters less licensed and less hands-off private eye Jackson Healey (Crowe) and his brass knuckles, both hired by the young hippie. However, the situation takes a turn for the worse when Amelia vanishes and it becomes apparent that March wasn't the only party interested. As both men are forced to team up, they'll have to take on a world filled with eccentric goons, strippers dressed as mermaids and even a possible government conspiracy.

The Review
So upfront let me tell you that I absolutely loved Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. This was one of Robert Downey Jnr’s key comeback films and I feel as though he owes a lot to director Shane Black and the work they did together. Black hasn’t made a huge number of films as yet in his career but he has done some brilliant work along the way. For the most part I loved the gritty nature of Iron Man 3 and this film sees him return a genre that he thrives in, modern film noir. Sure this is a film set in the seventies, however this is not the purist’s decade for the film noir genre. The way in which he adapts it, is something rather awesome to watch. He brings the grit, the laughs and the action and then wraps it all in a little drama and thrill.

First up let me say that Black has done an awesome job of recreating LA in the seventies. A little researching and I found that Downtown Atlanta doubled for 1970's Los Angeles during filming. Prop cars were given California plates and a car was painted to resemble a 70's era L.A. cab, "Hollywood Taxi Co". However, the scenes from the houses in the hills were something rather special and certainly added to the realism. Now I wasn’t anywhere near LA in the seventies so I am not sure how accurate it is, but having been there in the past few years you can certainly see how it would have been. For quite a bit of the Hollywood area certainly doesn’t appear to have had much done to it since the eighties and is rather dirty and run down.

The project was initially proposed as a TV series but was re-tooled as a film after the pilot seemed to be going nowhere. You can tell that it has its roots and style based on the TV format as there are plenty of throwback moments to shows such as the Rockford Files. One of those nods to is the yellow pages’ ad for Gosling's detective agency. It is almost a complete copy of the ad used for Jim Rockford. This is an edgy version of that typical detective TV series format. I guess that is one of the things that makes this change to big screen so successful. You have the gritty concept of a detective story in a medium where you can push the boundaries more. After all this film is R16 for very good reason. There is plenty of violence, nudity, sexual references and copious alcohol related humour. This is not a film for the soft heart. A large amount of scenes from this film would struggle to make it into prime time free to air TV. Another element that will split the audience is how much they utilise younger actors in scenes that would be deemed inappropriate. Either you will find this funny or you will find it horrid, either way be aware of this before you hit the cinema.

As far as the cast is concerned, Crowe and Gosling are brilliant together and sparkle on the big screen. There is some serious bro-chemistry going on there and it makes for a lot of laughs and also helps to have you caring about them. Then you add in the wonderful freshness of Angourie Rice and you have a winning formula. This young actress is destined for greatness with her ability to not only act but to deliver comedically as well. Angourie began her career in Perth, Western Australia with several short films and national television commercials. She first came to industry attention with her work on Zak Hilditch's short film Transmission. From there she found herself cast in feature films Walking With Dinosaurs and These Final Hours. As Gosling’s daughter in The Nice Guys, she shines and brings a mixture of innocence and adolescence in brilliant waves throughout the film.

And for the Shane Black aficionados, you may notice Val Kilmer’s son jack pops up in the film, which is a lovely connection with Blacks previous film Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Of course it doesn’t stop there, if you watch carefully you will find plenty of little nods to that film along the way. (Some are mentioned below in the Extras section.)

The Verdict
Highly irreverent, edgy and extremely funny. If you like your comedy on the edge then this is going to be right up your alley.

The Trailer

The Info
Releases: 26th May 2016
Rating: R16 – Contains Violence, nudity, sex scenes & offensive language
Duration: 116 minutes 
Genre:  Comedy
Starring: Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Angourie Rice
Director: Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Iron Man 3)

The Extras

Like fellow PI Jim Rockford, Gosling keeps his gun in a cookie jar.

First film directed by Shane Black to not star Robert Downey Jr.

Cast member Jack Kilmer is the son of Val Kilmer. Shane Black directed Val Kilmer in "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" (2005).

While Ryan Gosling's character is often shown carrying or lighting a cigarette, he is never shown smoking. The closest he comes is a single puff required to start a cigarette burning.

The film takes place in 1977 and mentions 'The Big Three' U. S. Automakers. However, in 1977 it was 'The Big Four': General Motors, Ford, Chrysler-Plymouth - and American Motors.

First reunion of Russell Crowe and Kim Basinger since L.A. Confidential (1997) and also second time Russell Crowe and Ty Simpkins are together in a movie, the first was in The next three days (2010).

The second movie that Jack Kilmer and Margaret Qualley have done together. The first one was Palo Alto.

When Ryan Gosling first steps out of the adult theater, in the background, one movie marquee is advertising "Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang," the first movie ever directed by Shane Black.


Holland (Ryan Gosling) has a birdlke drawing on his cast, perhaps in reference to the last name of the actor playing him as a gosling is a small bird.