, writer/director Shane Black returns to the volatile buddy-cop template that defined his early writing career with hits like The Nice Guys Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout, and The Long Kiss Goodnight. Ryan Gosling is one-half of said Nice Guys, a down-on-his-luck detective in the ’70s and his whole steez inspires this week’s 24 Frames gallery: the wackiest private eyes ever to grace film and television.
Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes nails the idea that his constantly “on” brain, roving eyes, and whirling motor mouth is as much as a curse as it is popcorn entertainment.
Jim Carrey’s first major movie role was Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and he spends most of it with his face hidden away, talking out of his ass. What a selfless actor!
Inspector Clouseau: Peter Sellers played the bumbling detective in the ’60s and ’70s, before Steve Martin took on the role for a Pink Panther reboot and a sequel starting in 2006.
The Adam West version of Batman, this Spandex’d deducer of truth, was always able to pin any number of Gotham villains to the scene of the crime even off the most threadbare clues.
Tony Shalhoub is Adrian Monk (of the titular TV show), an inspector working out of San Francisco whose debilitating obsessive-compulsive disorder stymies his efforts to catch the perps.
Need an incompetent upright talking crustacean to take on the case and eat all the clues out of desperate hunger? Why not Zoidberg?
From the files of Police Squad! to the big screen shenanigans of the movies, Leslie Nielsen plays Frank Drebin as a bumbling detective whose best weapons are goofy sight gags and absurd one-liners.
: Rashida Jones and Hayes MacArthur play a pair of mismatched cops in this off-the-wall police procedural spoof inspired by the likes of Angie Tribeca Police Squad! and Sledge Hammer.
: Matthew McConnaughey’s detective Rust Cohle is probably the last person you want to road trip with, unless you’re into endless metaphysical ruminations, residual psychedelic hallucinations, and beer can sculpture.
Martin Mull plays Gene Parmesan, a thoroughly incompetent (this being after all) detective-for-hire whose lousy disguises nonetheless brought unbridled joy to Lucille Bluth.
: The teenage sleuths of Mystery, Inc. are actually pretty good — they nab a perp every episode — but it’s a little unclear what a munchie-obsessed Great Dane with a speech impediment actually brings to each investigation.
Having a lot of super cool tools at your disposal is great if you’re a P.I., but it helps if you’re not a complete ditz. Thankfully, Inspector Gadget has a whiz-kid niece with a supersmart pup to bail him out of trouble every time his helicopter hat malfunctions.
is a Mystery Team Hardy Boys-esque raunchy parody that envisions naive sleuths who grew up but never put in a day of maturing.
Before he became railroad engineer and rode his train tp hell and back, Buster Keaton boned up on silent-era sleuthing in 1924’s .
Sledge Hammer!: How do you solve every case at once? Do what Sledge did at the end of Season 1 and blow up the city with a nuke. Boom, no mysteries ever again.
Duckman: An irascible, sexist, perverted quack of a detective who regularly botches the simplest cases. But his wife is dead, so you gotta sympathize, you know?
It was at Val Kilmer’s insistence that his character in (also written/directed by Shane Black) go gay (Gay Perry’s his name, in fact), inserting kissing shots with Robert Downey Jr. to jar the audience.
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
The Michael Richards Show: Short-lived, post- Seinfeld series starring Richards as an effective but unorthodox detective (carrying over some clumsy Kramer mannerisms).
Andy Barker, P.I.: An even more short-lived series starring Conan sidekick Andy Richter as a public accountant who is foisted into the crime-solving world after being mistaken for a private eye.
: Re-purposing a Raymond Chandler icon for the ’70s, Elliott Gould’s take on Philip Marlowe proves murky, quirky, and cool as jazz.
The Long Goodbye
: Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin star as “existential” private eyes, people who are hired to unravel lives and direct clients towards a purpose in life.
I Heart Huckabees
In , Bill Pullman stars as Daryl Zero, an awkward but genius detective whose interpersonal skills are so lousy, all clients speak to him through Zero’s assistant (Ben Stiller).
: Gene Wilder stars (while writing and directing) as Sigerson, the unambitious but suddenly jealous younger sibling of the world-famous detective, and sets out to outmatch him.
The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother
Just one more thing… Here’s Peter Falk as Columbo, the rumpled and deceptively scattered L.A. detective who entertained TV audiences for decades.