Tough Guy Lit: “The Nice Guys”

By Sean Tuohy

There are certain truths in this life that are indisputable: Bach composed awe-inspiring music, Van Gogh painted jaw-dropping landscapes, and Shane Black is the master of tough guy dialogue. He’s the poster boy of screenwriting for good reason. He’s known for the “Lethal Weapon” series (the one where people are always getting too old) and for a time was the highest paid screenwriter in the business. His scripts feature well-plotted stories, dark characters, and shiver-inducing dialogue. Black, along with co-writer Anthony Bagarozzi, has created a tough guy masterpiece with “The Nice Guys.”

Written nearly 10 years ago, “The Nice Guys” is a hidden gem that is shared between screenwriting nerds and whispered about. Actors Peter Weller (“RoboCop”) and Thomas Jane (“The Punisher”) performed the script on stage in Texas once, however, no one recorded it!

Finally, the script is coming to the big screen. Black’s third film as a director will be coming out sometime next year. The story follows a burnt out private eye with a smart mouthed daughter who partners with a hired thug to try to solve a mystery involving celebrity sex tapes, politics, and Tom Cruise look-a-likes.

“The Nice Guys” script is filled with witty banter between two wonderfully crafted characters, bad guys that make your skin crawl when they speak, and moments of humor that cause your side to break. The action is solid as well. Employing his standard tongue and check, Black makes sure that he blends together funny dialogue and violence. He writes Los Angeles in the same dark, cynic tone of Raymond Chandler wrote with, but he adds in the tough guy speak of Mickey Spillane. 

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