The Nice Guys is a 2016 American mystery-crime thriller action comedy film directed by Shane Black and written by Black and Anthony Bagarozzi. This film stars Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Angourie Rice, Matt Bomer, Margaret Qualley, Keith David and Kim Basinger and follows a pair of 1977 Los Angeles private eyes who investigate a missing girl.
The Nice Guys premiered on May 15, 2016, at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival and was released by Warner Bros. Pictures in the United States on May 20, 2016. Despite receiving positive reviews from critics, it grossed just $57 million against its $50 million budget.
In 1977 Los Angeles, a boy named Bobby witnesses fading porn star Misty Mountains (Telio) die in a car crash. Later that week, down-on-his-luck private eye Holland March (Gosling) is approached by Mrs. Glenn (Smith), the aunt of Misty Mountains who is obsessively claiming to have seen her niece alive. March is skeptical of her claim, but realizes that a missing girl named Amelia Kutner (Qualley) is somehow involved and accepts the job. However, Amelia does not wish to be found and hires enforcer Jackson Healy (Crowe) to intimidate March into staying away from her. Later that night, Healy is attacked at his home by two unnamed thugs credited as Blue Face (Knapp) - so named after a dye pack in Healy's briefcase hits his face - and Older Guy (David), who attempt to interrogate him about Amelia's whereabouts. After stunning the duo, Healy manages to ward them off with a hidden shotgun. He then teams up with a reluctant March to find Amelia before the thugs do. The two are assisted by Holly (Rice), March's young daughter who disapproves her father's methods and ethics, despite March's attempts to keep her out of the case wishing for Holly's safety.
The two then find out that Amelia was working with Misty Mountains and an amateur filmmaker named Dean on an "experimental film"—equal parts pornography and investigative journalism—called How Do You Like My Car, Big Boy? about the smog in Los Angeles, as they were both protesters against the growing air pollution. Dean, however, mysteriously died in a fire that burned the film. The two end up at a party to search for the film's financier, Sid Shattack, a notorious pornography producer. After fumbling through the party, a drunken March ends up finding Shattack dead, while unknowingly coming across Amelia. Holly, after attempting to investigate on her own, is tricked into a car by Blue Face and Older Guy. Healy fights with Older Guy, while Blue Face tries to kill Amelia from inside his car, only to be stopped by Holly, who warns Amelia and then escapes with her. While chasing them down, Blue Face is seriously injured in a hit-and-run. As he lies half-dead in the middle of the road, he reveals to Healy that their boss has dispatched a hit man named John Boy to kill Amelia, March and his family to prevent further witnesses. Healy discreetly strangles Blue Face to death to protect March and Holly, later claiming to Holly that he died of his injuries. After a brief investigation, the two are greeted by Amelia's mother, Judith Kutner (Basinger), a high-ranking official in the United States Department of Justice, who claims her daughter is delusional and paranoid and points them towards the Las Vegas mob trying to expand into the Los Angeles pornography scene.
Healy reveals the notepaper with March's address given to him by Amelia is identical to a paper he found at the party, which gives leads to an airport hotel where Amelia was going to distribute the film. However, they witness the men there being slaughtered by John Boy (Bomer) and hastily retreat, only to have Amelia land on their car from the building where she is accidentally knocked out. They take her back to March's house, where she reveals that the people after her are working for a cabal of Detroit automakers. After uncovering evidence that they colluded to suppress the catalytic converter (which regulates exhaust emissions), Amelia created How Do You Like My Car, Big Boy? to expose their collusion rather than going to the media as she believed that they and the government were a part of the conspiracy. Judith has her assistant, Tally (DaCosta), arrange for March and Healy to deliver a case that supposedly contains one hundred thousand dollars. However, a half-asleep March accidentally crashes their car and the case is opened to reveal shredded magazines, causing them to realize that they have been double-crossed. At home, Holly is confronted and attacked by John Boy, who had been sent by Tally under the guise of being a family doctor. March and Healy arrive back at the house and engage in a shootout with John Boy. John Boy escapes, while an impatient Amelia leaves, only to run into and be killed by John Boy.
March and Healy try to bring the matter to court, but are rejected, as they have no evidence, leading them again to search for the film. The two have Mrs. Glenn show them where she saw Misty Mountains alive. Inside they find a hidden projector—the poorly-sighted Mrs. Glenn having mistaken footage of Misty for her niece and deduce that there was a reprint of the film. They realize that the projectionist, Chet (Kilmer), another protester they had questioned about Dean, is the projectionist for the film and had worked with Amelia to make How Do You Like My Car, Big Boy? public by splicing it into the presentation film for the Los Angeles Auto Show, which is being held at a hotel. At the auto show, the two find that John Boy and Older Guy, along with a few other thugs are already there and have interrogated a drunken Chet, learning that the film will be projected automatically from a window of the building. Healy and March attempt to reach it first, only to be intercepted at gunpoint by Tally. Before she can kill them, Holly arrives while pretending to be room service and throws coffee at Tally. Holly's plan is initially unsuccessful as the coffee is cold, but Tally soon slips on the spill and knocks herself unconscious. In the subsequent fight, Older Guy falls to his death, while Healy subdues John Boy by knocking him out cold. He spares his life for Holly's sake.
The detectives take How Do You Like My Car, Big Boy? to the police and though Judith is arrested, the Detroit car companies are immune to any charges, due to insufficient evidence. When she talks with March and Healy before her trial, Judith claims she did not want her daughter killed and justifies her involvement by insisting that "what is good for Detroit is good for America." Afterward Healy and March decide to continue working together as private eyes, naming their agency "The Nice Guys".
- Russell Crowe as Jackson Healy
- Ryan Gosling as Holland March
- Angourie Rice as Holly March
- Matt Bomer as John Boy
- Margaret Qualley as Amelia Kutner
- Yaya DaCosta as Tally
- Keith David as Older Guy
- Beau Knapp as Blue Face
- Lois Smith as Mrs. Glenn
- Murielle Telio as Misty Mountains
- Kim Basinger as Judith Kutner
- Daisy Tahan as Jessica
- Jack Kilmer as Chet
- Ty Simpkins as Bobby
- Hannibal Buress as Bumble
Black initially wrote a version of the script along with Anthony Bagarozzi in 2001 which established the characters but otherwise was vastly different. According to Black, each would start with one detective, he with March and Bagarozzi with Healy. Along the way, they swapped characters and eventually wrote a first draft. This version of the script failed to attract any buyers, and then Black reworked it into a 64-page version that would serve for a television pilot. CBS became attracted to it, but given the contents led to many objections by the Standards and Practices department, it eventually did not progress and had Black appeal to his producer friend Joel Silver to attempt a film version again. Black would later, upon promoting the release of the final film, speak disparagingly of the idea of the television series, stating that such a show "wouldn’t have been any good". Like Black's Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, The Nice Guys takes inspiration from Brett Halliday, namely his novel Blue Murder.
The final version of the film was announced in June 2014, with Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling starring and Joel Silver producing. Black would later cite Crowe and Gosling as the reason the film was able to move forward. Other casting news followed with Margaret Qualley and Angourie Rice officially joining in September. Matt Bomer, Keith David, Beau Knapp, and Kim Basinger were confirmed in October, and Ty Simpkins and Jack Kilmer were announced in November.
Principal photography began on October 27, 2014, in Atlanta and Decatur, Georgia. On October 31, a police station scene was filmed in Atlanta among extras. Filming also took place in Los Angeles.
For its part, Warner Bros. used its 1972–84 title featuring the "Big W" logo designed by Saul Bass for Warner Communications to open the film.
- Main article: The Nice Guys (soundtrack)
Music for the film was composed by John Ottman & David Buckley, with the soundtrack being released on Lakeshore Records.
In May 2016, prior to the film's release, Black said of a follow-up, "I think it's a little premature to consider a sequel. I don't believe in jinxes necessarily, but we really need people to see this one before we can even talk about that. We're up against some stiff superhero competition and we just need people to, you know, maybe see Captain America six times, but not the seventh and see us instead."