Film Review: The Nice Guys (2016)

This film can best be described as a comedy action film set in the classic American noir environment of 1970s Los Angeles, with dark conspiracies involving government, business, police, and organized crime. It is Chinatown (1974) and LA Confidential (1997) played for laughs.

I find the violent comedy genre a little disconcerting and cannot really come to terms with it. Portraying violence and death and brutality realistically eliminates any humor for me and I find it off-putting unless it is obviously cartoonish, like this fight scene involving King Arthur and the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Having said that, this is reasonably good film that kept me interested, though the plot did not make much sense and there was more violence than I like to see. Russell Crowe plays a tough guy who is hired by people to defend them when they themselves cannot. He first appears when he beats up a man who preys on underage girls and warns him to stop it. He then beats up a private detective played by Ryan Gosling to stop him from trying to find his client who does not want to be found. But the two of them then team up when she goes missing. It is the search for her that results in the uncovering of widespread corruption and various forms of mayhem.

One thing that struck me was the appearance of Crowe. I had not seen him in a film for a long time, since A Beautiful Mind (2001) that followed soon after LA Confidential and so was surprised by his appearance here. He had really bulked up and looked like he was approaching John Goodman size. I was not sure whether he had done so for this particular role of playing a thug with some sense of decency (though it did not seem necessary) or whether this is what he normally looks like now.

Here’s the trailer for the film.


  1. fentex says

    I watched it recently and recognized it as writer Shane Black recycling his script from “The Last Boy Scout”, only not as funny and not as straight forward (it’s really hard to follow the story early on, possibly because of bad editing).

  2. taraskan says

    I saw this recently, and found the film moderately entertaining. It has its lulls, but it’s worth a recommendation in these dark times of thoughtless superhero reboots, even if it is a 6/10 in the scheme of things. It is essentially an improved reworking of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, which was the same story with more misogyny and flatter punch lines. I did get those LA Confidential vibes off Crowe’s character here. The better performance for me is Gosling, showing a lot of range and doing a kind of Nick Cage impression.

    I do love the black comedy genre, but it has rarely been done well in recent decades. For any potential fans out there, there are still a solid number of earlier gems from the ’80s and ’90s. I would shout out Heathers and Grosse Pointe Blank, or for less violence and more existentialism, Being John Malkovich.

  3. Reginald Selkirk says

    I saw this film and enjoyed. The description should include the fact that it is a buddy” movie in which two characters who don’t like each other are forced to team up. This is familiar ground.

    Although a lot of the main plot is familiar, scenes are shot in interesting ways and a lot of stuff is happening in the background if you are paying attention.

    One thing I thought was interesting, the film definitely goes for that “I love L.A.” vibe, but it wasn’t shot in Hollywood.

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