Movies like The Nice Guys draw from a long history of detective fiction, including both novels and films. The director and co-writer of The Nice Guys, Shane Black, even wrote some of those films, so searching for similar movies opens up a treasure trove of hard-boiled mystery stories. Luckily, many of the best movies like The Nice Guys are available to stream on some of the biggest services like Netflix.

Whether searching for comedic murder mysteries or buddy cop action, fans of The Nice Guys won’t be left wanting for thrills when checking out the most similar films. The best movies like The Nice Guys aren’t just worth seeking out for their similarities to Black and Anthony Bagarozzi’s screenplay but because many of them are certified cinematic classics that have helped to shape Hollywood history.



10 The Long Goodbye (1973)

  • Available to stream on Tubi, Pluto TV, and Paramount+

Robert Altman’s classic neo-noir film is a hugely influential detective story that should be considered essential viewing for any fan of The Nice Guys. Elliott Gould’s performance as the iconic private eye Philip Marlowe changed the movie-going public’s expectations for hard-boiled detectives, and shades of him can be seen in many of Shane Black’s characters.

While the story about Marlowe’s investigation of the deaths of several people, including one of his old friends, retains many of the grittiest elements from Raymond Chandler’s original novel, it’s also injected with its own dark sense of humor. Like The Nice Guys, it has a very distinct mixture of toughness and vulnerability, thanks in large part to Gould’s performance.

9 Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

Robert Downey Jr and Val Kilmer with guns in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

  • Available to rent or purchase on Prime Video

Shane Black’s name is well-known to action movie fans due to a number of his highly-popular screenplays being produced in the 80s and 90s as well as a successful directing career that he started in the 2000s with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

Like The Nice Guys, the movie is a neo-noir detective comedy that leans most heavily into the comedic part of the equation, but not without adhering faithfully to the tenets of hard-boiled detective fiction as well. The murder mystery at the center of the story is compelling and Black makes sure to include some of the shootouts that made his earlier screenplays so popular. However, the chemistry between Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer in the lead roles is more than enough reason for fans of The Nice Guys to seek it out​​​​​​.

8 The Last Boy Scout (1991)

Damon Wayans and Bruce Willis in The Last Boy Scout (1991)

  • Available to rent or purchase on Prime Video

Shane Black’s first two screenplay credits were in 1987 for writing the action blockbuster Lethal Weapon and for co-writing the horror-comedy The Monster Squad. While the latter failed to find an audience in theaters, the former’s success defined Black as a name in Hollywood action movies, and his second action screenplay helped him hone his distinct style.

The Last Boy Scout furthered Black’s characterization of the weary detective and his more grounded partner, with Bruce Willis’ former Secret Service agent turned sleazy PI acting as a bridge between Elliott Gould’s Marlowe and Ryan Gosling’s Holland March. The story, about a far-reaching conspiracy revolving around professional footballers, also drops the audience into a side of LA’s entertainment industry not usually seen in movies, like The Nice Guys does with pornography.

7 Lethal Weapon (1987)

Danny Glover and Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon (1987)

  • Available to rent or purchase on Prime Video

The original Lethal Weapon solidified a great many action movie tropes that are now commonplace in Hollywood screenwriting. It also showed many of Shane Black’s most beloved quirks as a screenwriter, not least of which is his choice to set his stories on or around Christmas, which is a tradition that has endured in his career through Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Iron Man 3, and even the ending of The Nice Guys.

The murderous conspiracy plot in Lethal Weapon has a slightly harder edge than the one in The Nice Guys as the two LAPD officers at the center of the mystery–the iconic Riggs and Murtaugh–are a bit more serious than Holland March and Jackson Healy. This isn’t to say that the film isn’t funny as a result though, as Mel Gibson and Danny Glover have superb chemistry and light up each and every scene that they’re in.

6 The Guard (2011)

Don Cheadle and Brendan Gleeson talking at a bar in The Guard (2011)

  • Available to rent or purchase on Prime Video

Don Cheadle and Brendan Gleeson are the oddly paired cops in this dark crime comedy from writer and director John Michael McDonagh. Cheadle plays an FBI agent searching for drug smugglers on the west coast of Ireland and Gleeson is a local police officer who’s far from a straight arrow, but essential to understanding the landscape. Fans of The Nice Guys will appreciate the movie’s focus on witty back-and-forth dialogue as well as the story’s bullet-riddled finale. The Guard may not have the glamour of 70s Hollywood going for it, but it uses the natural beauty of its location to create a unique personality for the film.

5 Rush Hour (1998)

Chris Tucker putting his arm around Jackie Chan in Rush Hour

  • Available to stream on HBO Max

Rush Hour allowed Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker to find a rare kind of screen chemistry. This in turn enabled one of China’s biggest movie stars ever to find a reliable foothold in Western cinema, with sequels to the film releasing in 2001 and 2007, and a fourth film in the early stages of development.

Like in The Nice Guys, the two seemingly mismatched detectives in the movie are on the trail of a missing girl and bond as they discover that their unorthodox styles work when put together. It’s one of the most highly-rated buddy cop comedies ever on IMDb and the charm of the movie’s two leads gives it an irresistible energy that persists even after almost 25 years.

4 Sherlock Holmes (2009)

Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law in Sherlock Holmes

  • Available to stream on fuboTV

Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law were another duo who also found a sequel-spawning spark of chemistry through the buddy formula, this time when applied to two of the oldest detectives to ever do it, Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. Director Guy Ritchie packs Sherlock Holmes with a huge sense of scale and action, but the real sizzle of the film is still the sharp wit in the dialogue. Fans of both the banter and the chaotic fight scenes in The Nice Guys will find a lot to love in this action-adventure blockbuster, as Holmes and Watson take on a murderous mastermind who appears to have supernatural abilities.

3 The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)

Geena Davis and Samuel L. Jackson in The Long Kiss Goodnight

  • Available to stream on HBO Max

Shane Black wrote and produced this action thriller about a woman with amnesia who, with the help of a private eye, discovers that she is in fact a highly-trained killer who’s connected to a deadly government conspiracy. Fans of The Nice Guys will be satisfied with the movie if they’re watching it for Shane Black’s style of comedy, as Geena Davis and Samuel L. Jackson fill the story with charm and humor in the lead roles. But they’ll want to stay for the action too, as Cliffhanger and Die Hard 2 director Renny Harlin is more than a match for the smorgasbord of wintry action scenes in the movie.

2 Brick (2005)

Joseph Gordon Levitt in Brick

  • Available to rent or purchase on Prime Video

Writer and director Rian Johnson reshaped the tone and vocabulary of the hard-boiled detective film and applied it to a stylish high school murder mystery for his impressive directorial debut. The original story sees Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s high schooler investigate the murder of his ex-girlfriend, entering into a violent world of wise-talking criminals. Though Brick is one of the darker movies that’s like The Nice Guys, it still exudes the sense of humor that Johnson would later put into his Knives Out films, both through the dialogue and a little physical comedy too.

1 The Big Lebowski (1998)

The Dude on the phone with Walter at the bowling alley in The Big Lebowski

  • Available to stream on Prime Video

Jeff Bridges created a cinematic icon with his performance as Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski in the Coen brothers’ hilarious mistaken identity comedy The Big Lebowski. The laid-back bowling enthusiast makes for one of the most entertaining amateur detectives in movie history, stumbling through a kidnapping case with the endearing lack of grace that makes Holland March such a lovable character in The Nice Guys.

The Big Lebowski is a hugely creative take on the structure and clichés of film noir, and it has its own comically surreal dream sequence too, but it’s mostly one of the best movies like The Nice Guysdue to its love for Los Angeles. The way that it frames and utilizes the idiosyncrasies of the world-famous city gives every scene of the film an inimitable charisma.

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