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Soundtrack review: The nice guys (John Ottman & David Buckley – 2016)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: The nice guys (John Ottman & David Buckley – 2016)


Russel Crowe! The 70s! John Ottman! Ah the dreams, the posiblities, the hopes for a 70s themed score by Ottman and David Buckley. Plus, it’s a Shane Black movie. Ok, ok, let this fan boy settle down a bit… “The nice guys” unfolds in 1970s Los Angeles, when down-on-his-luck private eye Holland March  and hired enforcer Jackson Healy become the unlikeliest of partners. Working together, they have to find a missing girl, who seems to have a target on her back.  And is her case related to the violent death of porn star Misty Mountain in a car crash?  During their investigation, March and Healy begin to uncover a shocking conspiracy that reaches up to the highest circles of power … and just might get them both killed. Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling play the two guys. The trailer made me laugh to tears.

I don’t even have time to tell myself to forget my expectations and focus on the music when the main theme makes me groove in my chair with the unforgettable and unmistakable mood of 70s spy movie. Oh the delight…the funky goodness…the electric guitar… The James Bond like orchestration….I am a happy film music fan right now. Film scores don’t need to be overly complicated and composers don’t need to make them more than the story asks. This is a buddy cop comedy set in the 70s and it involves investigating and plot twists and the composers just went with it. I know from the first minutes of the score when I am and what kind of story this is. I couldn’t mistake it for an epic movie, or depressing movie or even for a full action movie. No. This is a fun spy movie from the 70s. This is the beauty of the score and I wouldn’t even need to say more about it to get people to listen to it. I mean, there’s a cue called “Disco party fight”. Do I need to say more? Fans of the age, of the genre and of funky spy music will feel the same joy I feel right now as I am listening to this awesome score.

The brilliance of this score also lies in the way it mixes the spy stuff with comedic and romantic inserts baring the same nostalgic 70s stamp. It’s an all-out jazzy funk fest that takes us in a journey through the streets of 1970s LA from the nice parts to the more dangerous parts, from a sunny and warm morning to a tense rainy afternoon. I like the quieter and more serious middle section and I love the bursts of energy.

Everything works in this delightful score. Nostalgia level is high and the music put me in a great mood. For a fan of 70s cop and spy movies this has been a pleasure. I can’t wait to see the movie.

Cue rating:  92 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 27 / 44

Album excellence: 61%


01 Theme From -The Nice Guys-

02 Kids Today

03 Disco Party Fight

04 To The Car Show – Amelia

07 Equanimity

08 Chet In The Dumps

12 It’s Not A Flight

14 Yoohoo Delivery – Breaking In

15 Car Show Shoot Out

16 Follow The Yellow Dick Road

18 Flight Of The Bumble Bee – The Right Thing To Do (Bonus Track)




Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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