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In order to solve the crime of the century, these two will have to place nice. In this movie written and directed by Shane Black (Iron Man 3), down-on-his-luck enforcer Jackson Healy (Academy Award-winner Russell Crowe) and “the world’s worst detective,” Holland March (Academy Award-nominee Ryan Gosling), pair up to find a missing girl and take down some not-so-nice guys along the way. Together they break news headlines and a few bones, in this calamitous buddy comedy that will keep you guessing and laughing! (from the Warner Bros. official synopsis)

 The Nice Guys
Anyone well-versed in action cinema likely knows the name Shane Black. The man began his career as a writer in the mid-‘80s, working (sometimes uncredited) on sci-fi/horror fare like Night of the Creeps, The Monster Squad, Predator, and Dead Heat before becoming THE in-demand superstar writer of action films. Black created the Lethal Weapon franchise, writing the first two installments, and then continued on to do films such as The Last Boy Scout, Last Action Hero, and The Long Kiss Goodnight. While your opinions may vary on some of those titles, I personally find all of them enjoyable.

Black’s career seemed to flame out in the late ‘90s, but he burst back onto the scene in 2005 with Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, a noir/comedy that also served as his feature directorial debut. This led to him writing and directing Iron Man 3 for Marvel (as Robert Downey Jr. starred in both), but it’s Kiss Kiss that is most relevant when discussing The Nice Guys.

Both showcase Black’s trademark blend of creative action set pieces, engaging plot work, and witty dialogue. Beyond that, both also wallow in their detective/noir influences like a happy dog in a puddle of mud. There is a love of classic detective crime fiction tropes on display in both films, especially The Nice Guys, which is rarely seen in cinema made in the past 40 years.

We all know that Black can write this stuff blindfolded, but good writing doesn’t do much if you don’t cast your film properly. Thankfully, there’s nothing to worry about on that front here. Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling are both actors that I love to watch, but even I had no clue as to how well they would mash together. Their pairing is absolutely dynamite and the comedic timing that they have with one another is sublime. Seriously, I could watch this two make any kind of film together from here on out.

 The Nice Guys
Crowe is saddled with the grumpy “I’m not happy with my life and I know it” bruiser for hire role. Jackson Healy is a hard-ass that pounds on people for money, but he still has a strong sense of morality about what he does for a living. Enough so that he clearly wishes he was more helpful to the world at large.

Gosling’s Holland March is a different side of the same coin. An alcoholic widower and single father, to call March a bumbling private detective would be an understatement. His luck is so atrocious and his decision-making so moronic that it’s amazing he’s still alive. He’s one step shy of being a Looney Tunes character, which makes Gosling’s Lou Costello-esque comedic choices sing that much more. It’s also worth noting that Angourie Rice, who plays his daughter Holly March, holds her own with Gosling and Crowe throughout. She’s one to keep an eye on, folks.

The mismatched partners thrown into a conspiracy together is the type of story that Black excels at. You’d think we’d get tired of it eventually, especially since it’s a trope that has been mined to death by others elsewhere. Not so with a Black tale. He’s just so damn good at it that it doesn’t matter if it’s an overplayed trope and he always manages to put a new spin on it each time out. I could watch a dozen more films like this from him and never get tired of the structure, because the details are always different. Like I said, the man completely gets the genre that he’s aiming for here.

I could carry on and on for half a dozen more paragraphs about all of the individual sequences and lines of dialogue in this film that delight me. Instead, I’m just going to tell you to stop whatever it is you are doing and watch it yourself. It’s one of the best films of the year, hands down.

 The Nice Guys
Video
The film looked wonderful on the big screen and that absolutely holds true here. The Nice Guys was shot digitally and looks extremely sharp on home video. Every detail of its 1977 L.A. setting comes through, from our rough-n-tumble leads (and those they encounter), to the costumes, venues, and vehicles. Nothing seemed off about it (no DNR issues, banding, ghosting, etc.). Simply put, it looks spectacular.

Audio
The lossless 5.1 soundtrack is splendid. The action packs the needed wallop and the dialogue is always crystal clear, which is infinitely important given how funny the film often is. The score also sounds fantastic, as do all of the era-appropriate needle drops throughout. The whole thing just pops (in a good way).

 The Nice Guys
Extras
This release is unfortunately light on extras, but given the film’s less than stellar success at the box office, I wasn’t overly surprised. We get two featurettes, one focusing on writer/director Shane Black and the other on the film itself. They’re both 100% EPK material, but all parties involved are enthusiastic enough that they’re still fun to watch. An audio commentary or two would have been nice, but what can you do?

Beyond that, we have the usual digital copy and an assortment of trailers for other Warner Bros. releases, though strangely enough not any of The Nice Guys trailers. Instead, we are treated to previews for the home video releases of The Legend of Tarzan, Batman: The Killing Joke, The Conjuring 2, and a theatrical trailer for War Dogs.

  • Featurette – Always Bet on Black (5:27, HD)
  • Featurette – Worst. Detectives. Ever. Making The Nice Guys (6:16, HD)
  • Digital Copy
  • Trailers


 The Nice Guys
Overall
I have a feeling that most know whether they are already in the bag for a film like this. Whether you’re coming to it as a fan of the actors, the genre, or Shane Black’s work, chances are you know if The Nice Guys might be up your alley. With that in mind, it’s easy for me to recommend it as one of the best films in the filmographies of all involved. As for the presentation, the A/V aspects are top-notch. The extras are extremely light, but unfortunately that’s likely a by-product of the film not doing well financially upon release. Still, the film itself is so good that it really doesn’t matter and I highly recommend this release on those grounds alone.

 The Nice Guys

 The Nice Guys


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