The Nice Guys is a lot of things. It's a buddy cop film, it's a neo-noir crime film and it's also a black comedy. It's also bloody hilarious. Set in late 1970s Los Angeles, the movie follows private investigator Holland (played by Ryan Gosling) and muscle-for-hire Jackson (played by Russell Crowe) as the investigate the disappearance of a young girl.
Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe as a comedic duo isn't one you'd expect, but their chemistry on screen is so fluid and natural that at times, you forget you're watching a fictional comedy set over 40 years ago. This movie also birthed a star in Angourie Rice as Holland's daughter. Most of the time she is on screen, she completely steals the show.
As is expected with any sort of neo-noir movie, it can get dark at times. Real dark. But it never leans into unnecessary cynicism, which is a breath of fresh air when it comes to recent comedies coming out of Hollywood.
On paper, this should have been a home run. Shane Black directed both Lethal Weapon and Lethal Weapon 2, both standing as two of the most successful in the buddy cop genre. Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling are two actors of the highest regard. So what went wrong?
Shane Black's 2005 film Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is very similar in tone and comedy to The Nice Guys, but unfortunately it bombed even harder. What also didn't help is when exactly The Nice Guys was released. The Angry Birds movie was just released, prompting parents everywhere to flock (wink wink) with their children to the cinema. Captain America: Civil War had just come out, and nothing stops the MCU juggernaut. And Bad Neighbors 2 had just been released, aimed at a similar demographic.
Reduced interest in the genre and a less than ideal release slot did not bode well for The Nice Guys