The suits sure maketh the men – or rather, the jackets sure maketh the men, if we’re being specific.
Looking focused and oh-so-serious in this exclusive first look at the film, directed by Shane Black (Iron Man 3, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang), we see/meet struggling private eye Holland March (Gosling) and hired enforcer Jackson Healy (Crowe), two “working-class dudes” who are forced to work together to solve the case of a missing girl and death of a porn star an investigation that uncovers a surprising conspiracy with major ramifications for those in the highest positions of power.
“I think we’ve really lucked out,” Black tells PEOPLE of his Nice Guys, which also features Matt Bomer, Margaret Qualley (The Leftovers) and Kim Basinger, who last appeared onscreen with Crowe nearly 20 years ago in 1997’s L.A. Confidential. “Whether this thing is a comedy with action or a thriller with jokes, one thing that’s very clear is these two are extremely funny. People will enjoy seeing the two of them.”
The writer-director says that although they hadn’t worked together before, Gosling and Crowe developed an instant rapport that reminds him of Mel Gibson and Danny Glover’s connection in the original Lethal Weapon, the first film Black wrote.
“Really great actors will feed on the other actor,” says Black, adding that he was especially impressed with how well Crowe took to the humorous elements in the film, “like a fish to water,” but promises that Nice Guys is no “joke fest.”
“It is an R-rated film and it’s a caper,” says Black. “It’s a little fast, a little funny and a little rough in places, kind of coarse. These guys are working-class dudes, they’re not really sophisticated private detectives, so it’s a chance to do the kind of thriller I don’t see too much of anymore.”
Black describes the film’s tone as a “half whimsical private-eye movie” and “spiritual sequel” to his 2005 cult hit Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, starring Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer. In his words, the film “retains the harshness of the world and gives a nod that we’re very much in noir territory,” Black says. “It’s a little bit pushed – the premise, the time period, everything is a little crazy.”
And then of course there’s the groovy ’70s-style clothing worn by the two actors, in all of its synthetic, colorful, patterned glory.
“We needed (costumes) that still presented these guys with a sort of unfettered masculinity,” says Black. “You wanted them to be sexy, not goofily representing the ’70s. I think they look great in these ’70s clothes. If anyone can rock these things, these two can pull it off.”
The Nice Guys hits theaters May 20, 2016.