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14 classic buddy movies to lift your spirits

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There's nothing quite like being with your bestie, which is why this period of lockdown is so tough for all of us.

However, we can always cheer ourselves up with some quintessential buddy movies. Here's a blog list of classics that will help you appreciate those friends from whom you're separated.

1. Some Like It Hot (1959)

Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis are a classic double-act in Billy Wilder's hilarious comedy. Two musicians must go on the run from brutal killers by dressing up as women, which sets up a brilliant, innuendo-laden love triangle with Marilyn Monroe's beautiful ingenue.

The razor-sharp script flies high with its astute observation about the battle of the sexes, but it's the peerless chemistry between Lemmon and Curtis that sells it, a symphonic crescendo of brilliantly delivered dialogue.


2. Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid (1969)

The gold standard for buddy movies, Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid, written by William Goldman, features one of the best on-screen duos in the history of cinema.

Paul Newman and Robert Redford are immediately iconic as the bickering outlaws, one an idealistic veteran, the other a short-tempered hothead, a partnership that would later be replicated in 1973's The Sting. It's a credit to director George Roy Hill that he often stays out of the way of his performers, allowing the chemistry to resonate as strongly as the Burt Bacharach soundtrack.


3. 48 Hrs. (1982)

Eddie Murphy made his big-screen debut in this all-action buddy comedy, and what an accomplished, confident debut it is. Murphy's smart-alek screen persona is already fully formed when we first meet his criminal character Reggie Hammond, who reluctantly teams with Nick Nolte's hard-boiled cop Jack Cates.

With Murphy's motor-mouth working perfectly in tandem with Nolte's world-weary visage, a classic movie duo was formed. So popular was the combination of the two actors that they later reunited for 1990's Another 48 Hrs.


4. Lethal Weapon (1987)

If 48 Hrs. is the inception point for the modern-day buddy cop movie, then Lethal Weapon is the granddaddy of the genre. The first film in the hit series cemented all the cliches we've come to expect from films in this field, from the yin and yang of its young guy/old guy partnership, to the hilariously funny contrast in methods between the two main players.

Of course, the first Lethal Weapon is far grittier and darker than those that followed. It mixes big laughs with a violent conspiracy storyline, but the effortlessly likeable duo of Mel Gibson and Danny Glover help see us through even the toughest of moments.


5. Midnight Run (1988)

When one thinks of classic screen duos, the combination of Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin may not immediately spring to mind. But if you haven't seen the utterly brilliant Midnight Run, do yourself a treat and check it out.

De Niro is the fabulously grumpy straight man, cop turned bounty hunter Jack Walsh, transporting Grodin's annoying talkative mob accountant Jonathan Mardukas on a hair-raising trip from New York to Los Angeles. As police, the FBI and the mob descend on the two men, the script unfurls line after line of classic zingers. ("You're in control of your own words."/"You're goddamn right so here come two for you: shut the f**k up.")


6. Thelma And Louise (1991)

This has been a pretty blokey list so far, so let's even the score a little bit. Directed by Ridley Scott and written (to Oscar-winning effect) by Callie Khouri, Thelma And Louise is rightly regarded as one of the pioneering feminist movies of the 1990s.

Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis are utterly compelling as the chalk and cheese friends who must go on the run after shooting dead an attempted rapist. As the landscape of the American West unfolds around them, the two women find reservoirs of inner courage, all the while anticipating the inevitably bittersweet climax. 


7. Bad Boys (1995)

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence recently reunited as bantering cops Mike and Marcus in Bad Boys For Life. But you can't beat the original Bad Buys movie, which served as our introduction to the bromantic, competitive cop duo, who spend as much time throwing around insults as they do tackling the bad guys.

Michael Bay's movie (one of the few watchable films made by the director) follows in the footsteps of 48 Hrs. and Lethal Weapon before it. At the same time, the cranked-up pyrotechnics and visual style locate it very firmly in the 1990s, but it's the Smith/Lawrence chemistry that really crackles.

8. Toy Story (1995)

Who says all buddy movies need to be live-action, or even centrally focused on human characters? Disney-Pixar's groundbreaking Toy Story shows us that even plastic objects can developed deep-seated feelings of friendship and rivalry – it just so happens to play out when we're not looking.

Tom Hanks' cowboy Woody is initially jealous when Tim Allen's spaceman Buzz Lightyear arrives in owner Andy's room. But when the two land in the clutches of the neighbourhood bully, they must learn to work together and escape. The combination of the endearing vocal performances, profound writing and gorgeous animation helps craft one of the best friendship movies of all time.



9. Men In Black (1997)

Will Smith again, and this time, he's paired with an altogether different kind of actor. The first Men In Black movie (forget the sequels) is a triumphant example of against-the-grain casting, pitting Smith's exuberance against Tommy Lee Jones' wonderfully crotchety deadpan exterior.

This lightning-in-a-bottle chemistry is what keeps the movie powering through, even more so than the admittedly impressive CGI effects and animatronics. The two actors play extraterrestrial-monitoring agents J and K, and share the kind of intuitively funny interplay that most other movies would kill for.


10. Hot Fuzz (2007)

Not only does Hot Fuzz present us with a classic buddy partnership, in the form of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. It's also the only movie on this list to explicitly acknowledge the existence of another buddy franchise: Michael Bay's Bad Boys, in particular, the overblown second movie.

But that's exactly what we've come to expect from director Edgar Wright, master of the pop culture riff. As Pegg's stoic Nicholas Angel and Frost's eager Danny Butterman lay waste to the scheming citizens of Sandford, the Bad Boys gag re-emerges during the climax to pull an all-out assault on our funny bones.


11. Sherlock Holmes (2009)

Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories could be seen as the prototype for the modern buddy movie. After all, they hinge on the working relationship between master sleuth Holmes and his loyal accomplice Dr. Watson, a friendship that has received multiple big-screen iterations over the years.

Director Guy Ritchie was keen to emphasise the enjoyably antagonistic chemistry in his pumped-up 2009 reboot. Robert Downey Jr.'s action-oriented Holmes verbally spars with Jude Law's poised Watson in Ritchie's enjoyably slick update, which received a 2011 sequel named Game Of Shadows.


12. The Heat (2013)

The women are here to sort out the men in Paul Feig's deliriously funny buddy cop comedy. Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy are gloriously mismatched as an FBI agent and maverick Boston detective who must learn, somehow, to work together.

Feig has always favoured strong chemistry between women characters, as the earlier likes of Bridesmaids attest. And he clearly relishes letting comic veterans Bullock and McCarthy go at it, with the former's highly-strung obtuseness mixing with the latter's creatively foul-mouthed insults.


13. The Nice Guys (2016)

Shane Black wrote the original Lethal Weapon, and can take credit for helping to popularise the buddy cop genre. His film The Nice Guys is, therefore, something of a homecoming, once again drawing on that enjoyable Lethal Weapon mixture of antagonistic partners, massive laughs and explosively violent set-pieces.

Ryan Gosling is a hoot as the bumbling private investigator who must work together with Russell Crowe's imposing bruiser. As with all great buddy movies, the disparity between the two actors, both physically and in terms of their technique, somehow comes to work in the story's favour. Seriously, where is the sequel?


14. Booksmart (2019)

We'll end with a recent hit: Olivia Wilde's smart and sassy story of two bookworm friends desperate to demonstrate their wild side. Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever are terrific as the two friends whose last night of high school descends into a debauched frenzy, but the movie is underscored with a wise sense of melancholy, too.

Both women are about to embark on different life journeys, and it's a credit to Wilde's intuitive helming that she recognises the pain of a friendship breaking up. Fortunately, they (and indeed we the audience) can look back on the good times and smile.



What's your favourite buddy movie of all time? Let us know @Cineworld.

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