'The Nice Guys' (2016) - Film Review

Updated on June 8, 2020
Running Time
116 minutes
Shane Black
Shane Black and Anthony Bagarozzi

"I had to question the mermaids. What were you doing while I was working?"


Set in 1977 LA, Amelia is a girl who has gone into hiding and hires Jackson Healy, an enforcer, to put PI Holland March, who is searching for Amelia, in his place. However, when two men assault Healy in search of Amelia's whereabouts, Healy hires March and the two pair up to find her.

  • Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) - Sees himself as a sort of PI, who mainly takes money from fathers of young girls who want their daughters to stop seeing older guys. However, he is hired by Amelia to force Holland March off her case. But when he is assaulted, he is intrigued as to why these men want to find Amelia and teams up with March, the man he had previously attacked.
  • Holland March (Ryan Gosling) - An actual private investigator who is attacked by Healy for reasons he is unsure of. To his surprise, Healy then comes to him for hire. He is skeptical but after receiving a handsome sum of money, he accepts and they work together to find Amelia.
  • The pair go on a wild goose chase in search of Amelia. They must connect a set of murders and add up the clues to find Amelia in this murder mystery movie.

Positives of 'The Nice Guys'

I thought The Nice Guys was a good film and I had a lot of fun with it. It is a comedy/mystery/action movie based around these two investigators and their hilarious relationship. The mystery keeps you engaged and I did find myself consistently trying to work out what was going on.

  • Gosling and Crowe - These two carried the movie, for me as their dynamic chemistry is the driving force for many of the themes seen in this film. There is no denying that their relationship is very funny and they had me laughing for most of the film. When the movie is just Gosling and Crowe, playing off of each other, it makes for a really hilarious and original film that you do not see in modern cinema.
  • Setting - I thought this was the strongest aspect of the film as you fully feel the 1970s LA setting. I think the movie clearly took inspiration from the 1997 film Boogie Nights as the porn industry is heavily involved in this case and there is a scene where a party is occurring and it is seamy and decadent. From the costumes to the cars, it is all representative of the time and the decor really sells this setting to the audience. Even the introduction of the title felt like those 70s and 80s cop shows and it really had a nostalgic feeling to it, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
  • Shane Black - The director of Lethal Weapon and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, two films I'm very fond of, knows his stuff when creating buddy cop movies. His direction is great, for the most part, as the film really has a 1980s filmmaking feel to it. Yes, it is set in the 1970s, however, this sort of filmmaking is just not explored in modern day Hollywood anymore. The mystery is appealing and there are some great shootout scenes, which will grab your attention.

"I think I'm invincible. I don't think I can die... Let me"

Performances of Note

The central actors in this movie absolutely killed it. This is a role I haven't really seen from Gosling or Crowe and I thought they were superb. The chemistry they build really carries this film.

  • Ryan Gosling (Holland March) - My favourite character of this film is Holland March, expertly brought to life by Gosling. He had me laughing throughout and plays the nervous, drunk but somewhat brilliant private investigator fantastically well. The humour, for me, was not laugh out loud. However, the witty one liners that Gosling delivers was the most humorous aspect of this film. He works off of Crowe brilliantly and I would definitely be down to watch another movie based off of these two characters.
  • Russell Crowe (Jackson Healy) - He is brilliant in this film, his character is much more understated than March, but that was what the role needed. He is tough, but witty and humorous in a more subtle way, which really adds to the chemistry between the two actors. He is particularly great in the action scenes, as it adds real excitement to the movie and an edge that the film needed.
  • Angourie Rice (Holly March) - This is the first movie I have seen Rice in and she crushes her performance as Holland March's daughter. In a world that is based around very grown up themes, she does not feel out of place, even though she is playing a 13-year-old girl. She helps both March and Healy in the investigation and in many ways is a better detective than the actual detectives. She is smart, intuitive and I believe she has a long career in film off the back of this performance.

"Look, if you come in here and you beat up on me, it's part of the job. I accept it. But what did you do? You pissed me off"

Negatives of 'The Nice Guys'

I have a few issues with this movie. For the most part, I did enjoy it and would recommend people to watch it. However, there were parts that bugged me and I felt it could have been a better executed movie.

  • Tone - At times, I felt like the film was trying to be something that it is not. It should, for me, be a straight up comedy movie and market itself as such. However, there is a lot of killing and some of the deaths felt unnecessary and distracted from the comedic nature of the film. One moment you’re laughing, then the film seems to try and make you feel sad about Holland March's past, then an innocent person will be shot and I just don't think it blended all that well. The tone felt very strange in parts and a little all over the place.
  • Story - I think the movie is great when Gosling and Crowe are playing off of each other, but when it tries to get serious, it lost me slightly and I found it less interesting. Perhaps that was because I wasn't as invested in the mystery as some may be, but I found myself just wanting to see Gosling and Crowe in dialogue with each other. Also, I found the mystery of it all very confusing and it didn't make sense to me. The story felt a little too ambitious, but I would like to see these two characters on a different case that engages me more because the setting is perfect.
  • Secondary characters and acting - Other than the main three characters, which you see throughout, the other characters felt very over the top and unrealistic. I really found myself thinking that they were overacting consistently and didn't fit in with the movie. Matt Bomer's hitman character was someone I would have loved to have seen more of. He really only turns up in the second half of the movie and he is such a cool and interesting character that I really feel would have aided the film.

“So you're telling me you made a porno where the plot is the point?”


I had a fun time watching this movie and I was consistently laughing at the witty comedy and at the relationship between March and Healy. However, the movie isn't perfect and I would have liked a clearer tone to the film. I personally would have enjoyed a less confusing mystery and a film that focuses its full attention on the comedy, because when it does it is very funny. The setting is sublime and you feel like you're watching a film that was made many years ago, adding a real original and fresh excitement to the movie. I certainly would like to watch another film with these two central characters and would be surprised if there isn't another movie. This is 100% worth the watch, although it does have its flaws, which brought my overall opinion of the film down. But in conclusion, I would definitely recommend this film to all as it is a good quality comedy movie.

3 out of 5

3 stars for 'The Nice Guys'


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