THE NICE GUYS

He’s a nice guy, that Shane Black. Real nice.

Empire (UK) - - CONTENTS - Lift­ing the lid on the year’s Shane Black­est comedy

00:03:16

THE MISTY MOUN­TAINS COLD

__ The movie opens with a boy (Ty simp­kins) ogling a porn cen­tre­fold, then the same model (Murielle Te­lio’s Misty Moun­tains) crashes through his house in a car, and dies in the same po­si­tion as she’s in in the photo. “It stems from the idea of the ex­pec­ta­tion of Los An­ge­les ver­sus the dis­ap­point­ing out­come,” says Black. “In re­al­ity, things are very dif­fer­ent than when you’re se­questered in your fan­tasy.”

00:09:03

PORN POSTER PAR­ADISE

__ As we meet Ryan Gosling’s Hol­land March, note a se­ries of posters for fake porn films at­trib­uted to pro­ducer Sid Shat­tuck. “My favourite got cut from the movie,” says Black. “It was called Fol­low The Yel­low Dick

Road.” At one point, a sex cinema can be seen with Bang Bang Kiss Kiss on the mar­quee. “That was put in by the pro­duc­tion de­signer,” laughs Black, direc­tor of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

00:44:36

HOL­LAND AND COSTELLO

__ When a drunk Hol­land stum­bles upon Shat­tuck’s corpse, his hilarious, wheez­ing re­ac­tion re­calls a true comedy great. “It’s a ref­er­ence to an Ab­bott and Costello movie called Hold That Ghost, which Ryan had seen a cou­ple of nights be­fore,” ad­mits Black. “He said, ‘I kinda like the Costello guy and the way he re­acts.’ We tried it once and threw out ev­ery­thing else to do five takes of that.”

01:48:35

BREAK­ING THE FOURTH WALL

__ With the bad guys rounded up and jus­tice mostly served, Kim Basinger’s cor­rupt Jus­tice Depart­ment of­fi­cial, Ju­dith Kut­tner, talks about how noth­ing will change, while ef­fec­tively look­ing straight at the cam­era. “We wanted to make sure she stated her man­i­festo, that the vil­lain was look­ing out to the au­di­ence say­ing, ‘There’s al­ways go­ing to be a lit­tle guy, and the lit­tle guy is al­ways go­ing to lose.’”

00:11:14

THE COMEDY APART­MENT

__ Russell Crowe’s Jackson Healy lives in a flat above LA’S iconic Comedy Store on Sun­set Boule­vard. “There are rooms up there,” says Black. “We cut a scene where Healy is sit­ting de­pressed in his apart­ment and the sound­track to his life is this bur­ble of laugh­ter through the floor. The idea was to give Healy a laugh track to his life.” No­tice the way Tim Allen rises up the bill as the film pro­gresses.

01:27:48

THE DEATH OF AMELIA

__ “It was im­por­tant that we re­mind the au­di­ence in as force­ful a way as pos­si­ble that there’s not a win to be had here,” says Black of the cru­cial mo­ment when Amelia (Mar­garet Qual­ley), the girl March and Healy have been try­ing to save, is shot dead by Matt Bomer’s John Boy. “And also to re­mind them they’re not just watch­ing a comedy. We needed some­thing heavy like that at the end of act two.”

01:48:57

A VERY SHANE BLACK CHRIST­MAS The movie ends by skip­ping ahead a few weeks to a fa­mil­iar sea­son for Black fans: Christ­mas (most of his movies are set then). “It’s a bit­ter­sweet time,” he ex­plains. But this could be the last jin­gle bell rock for the direc­tor. “I don’t want to make it seem like this is some­thing on my list of de­mands. It’s some­thing we did, which we don’t have to do any­more.”

00:40:31

PARTY HARD

__ Dur­ing their in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the film’s con­vo­luted mys­tery, Hol­land and March head to a lurid pool party at Sid Shat­tuck’s house. High­lights in­clude mer­maids be­hind the bar and con­tor­tion­ists acting as drinks trays. “These are wildly overblown ver­sions of what I may or may not have flirted with back in the day,” laughs Black, once a no­to­ri­ous partier. “This party is much raunchier than any­thing I could have put to­gether.”

01:36:23

IN YOUR DREAMS

__ This elab­o­rate set-up sees March scram­ble for Healy’s an­kle hol­ster, only to find he’d dreamt it ear­lier. “The gag was that you’d have a dream se­quence,” laughs Black, “and it would lead to a pay­off in a later scene.” Said dream se­quence in­volves a giant talk­ing bee. “It didn’t mat­ter what the dream se­quence was — but it be­came a com­pen­dium of ev­ery­thing March is afraid of. Kil­ler bees, smog, the world end­ing.”

01:49:35

DRINK UP

__ Healy, a re­cov­er­ing al­co­holic who avoids tak­ing a tip­ple through the movie, is roar­ing drunk dur­ing the fi­nal scene; a neat re­ver­sal of the usual ac­tion-hero arc. “The bit­ter­sweet victory at the end is that March doesn’t quit smok­ing, and that Healy doesn’t quit drink­ing,” says Black.

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