It’s a hectic time out there these days. The past year has left us rife with political and societal conflict. We can’t go a gosh darn day without some anxiety-inducing news alert buzzing from our phones and, on top of all that, half-price apps after 9 p.m. at Applebee’s no longer includes discounts on bone-in wings. I mean, what has the world come to?
It is in these moments of unrest that we turn to the escapism of film to find some sort of momentary relief. Unfortunately, as art and artists are wont to do, so many of these movies are intent on delivering the viewer with “meaning” and “substance,” that it comes at the cost of letting us just calm the fork down for two gosh darn hours. Ugh, if I could just have a day off from growing as a person, that would be greatly appreciated.
And that’s where the buddy-movie genre comes in. For those who may not know, the buddy-movie is any film that focuses primarily on a couple of pals getting up to some whacky and/or zany antics. Usually these movies are not as focused on their plot as much as they are on the back-and-forth dynamics between the two protagonists.
A good buddy-movie is a fantastic viewing choice because while still being a quality film, it is a genre that tends to focus on more light-hearted and chock full of fun moments. Plus, if you watch them with a friend, you can have a fun little debate over which of you is more like which character.
That being said, here is my list of top buddy-movie recommendations:
“Lethal Weapon” (1987)
Considered the definitive buddy-cop movie (as well as one of the all-time Christmas classics), “Lethal Weapon” was written by Shane Black (of “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” and “Iron Man 3” fame) and directed by Richard Donner (of “Superman” and being-fired-off-of-“Superman II” fame). The film follows the good-cop/bad-cop dynamic of the family-man and almost-retiree Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) and the off-the-wall maverick cop, Martin Riggs (a pre-problematic era Mel Gibson). Though the two have their differences and spend a lot of time squabbling – mostly over Riggs’ apparent insanity – the two eventually bond and learn to work together as the murder case they are assigned to investigate is revealed to be part of a heroin-smuggling conspiracy.
The movie is an absolute blast and just oozes endless 80s vibes. Viewers can expect to enjoy quippy dialogue, Mel Gibson fist-fighting Gary Busey (despite the fact that basically the entire LAPD already is present and ready to make the arrest) and a soundtrack that features a borderline obscene amount of saxophone.
“Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” (1969)
Considered one of the first buddy-movies, this comedy Western stars Paul Newman and Robert Redford as the infamous old-West bandits, Butch and Sundance, respectively. However, this film leans far away from many of the grit and other conventions that were common to the Western genre at the time. Instead, the bank robbers are depicted more as loveable oafs that stumble from hijink to hijink. However the two come into trouble when a business tycoon hires a posse of lawmen to hunt them down.
The film is surprisingly sweet and funny, as well as infinitely quotable. “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” is often listed as a classic that has captured the hearts of audiences for generations. Evidently, it also had a profound sentimental impact on the production team; not only did the same crew come together again for 1973’s “The Sting,” Redford also went on to name the Sundance Film Festival after one of his favorite roles.
Probably the least known film on this list, “Mallrats” was writer/director Kevin Smith’s follow-up to his indie mega-hit debut, “Clerks.” The only modestly successful film follows a day in the life of two pals, T.S. and Brodie, who decide to hang out at the local mall after both experience their own respective break-ups with their significant others. The two start off with the typical “Clerks”-esque nerdy and/or philosophical musing, but then quickly get swooped into shenanigans when Smith’s recurring characters, Jay and Silent Bob, enlist them to help sabotage a dating show that is about to be filmed in the mall.
“Mallrats” also features pre-fame performances from actors the caliber of Jason Lee and Ben Affleck, as well as a Stan Lee cameo that puts the Marvel movies to shame. Fun-fact: although the film takes place in New Jersey, it was actually filmed in the Twin Cities’ Eden Prairie Mall. Sadly, the mall has been renovated to the point of being unrecognizable, as I had to learn the hard way.