Celebrate Friendship With These Great Buddy Movies
The "buddy movie" became a mainstay in the 1980s thanks to buddy cop pictures like LETHAL WEAPON, but the format was hardly invented then. LETHAL WEAPON learned tricks from 1974's hilarious and action-packed FREEBIE AND THE BEAN. Every decade had its own major movie star comedy duo. Laurel and Hardy led to Abbot and Costello, to Bob Hope and Bing Crosby — you get the idea, even if your favorite pairing is Frost and Pegg, Farley and Spade, or Fey and Pohler.
Inspired by International Friendship Day, we wanted to look at our favorite buddy movies. It's been a tough year, so here's a set of movies that you can watch to keep the idea of friendship alive every day.
[Image Credit: DreamWorks Pictures]
Friendship comes in many forms, and its emotional power can be even greater than we expect when the people — or creatures — involved are an unlikely pair. An ogre and a donkey, for example, as in the SHREK characters voiced by Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy. Their unexpected pairing, on an errand for the domineering Lord Farquaad, gives Shrek and Donkey time to develop a real affinity for one another, even though mistaken assumptions and misunderstandings. By the way, did you know that SHREK was in competition for the Palme d'Or — the most prestigious film festival prize in the world? It was the first animated movie in decades to compete for the prize, and even though it lost (to the perfectly good if not exactly Earth-moving movie THE SON'S ROOM) that is merely one aspect of the SHREK story that demonstrates that friendship really does win out.
The Hangover (2009)
[Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures]
Two friends and one not-entirely welcome relative head to Las Vegas with a groom-to-be (Justin Bartha) for a bachelor party that will change all their lives — and make stars of two of them. Ed Helms was already known for his work on "The Daily Show" but THE HANGOVER turned Bradley Cooper and Zach Galifianakis into major players. Their weird, wonderful chemistry brought to life the tense and eventually hard-won friendship between their characters. THE HANGOVER isn't exactly a #RelationshipGoals movie but then again… maybe it is?
Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)
[Image Credit: Paramount Pictures]
When Matthew Broderick's smart but distracted Ferris Bueller skips school (again) he isn't content to go alone — he literally pulls his best friend Cameron (Alan Ruck) out of bed to join Ferris and his girlfriend Simone (Mia Sara) on a grand Chicago adventure. FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF captures easy camaraderie between Ferris and Cameron but it is also honest about Cameron's frustrations over the differences between the two young men. Friendships are best when they remain strong after being tested, and this movie doesn't let anyone get off easy. It even spares time to develop an understanding between Ferris and his jealous sister Jeanie (Jennifer Grey) — that's a glimmer of hope in a parent's nightmare.
Thelma & Louise (1991)
[Image Credit: MGM]
What did we just say about friendships being tested? THELMA & LOUISE, which is as powerful and relevant today as it was 30 years ago, follows a housewife and her acerbic waitress bestie as they escape the city for a fishing trip that turns into an attempted rape, which leads to a retaliatory shooting. It's a whirlwind of circumstance that turns Thelma (Geena Davis) and Lousie (Susan Sarandon) into fugitives, and which drives them to an extreme end — and one of cinema's most lasting finales.
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
[Image Credit: Columbia Pictures]
We all know that friendships can be circumstantial, but some lasting, true bonds can be forged in extreme conditions. Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of the murder of his wife and her lover. In Shawshank State Penitentiary he meets Red (Morgan Freeman), who helps Andy procure a seemingly random array of items. Over 19 years Andy and Red form a deep friendship. Their relationship is ultimately strong enough to help Red overcome his sense of displacement and loss after being released from prison, and their reunion is so pure and life-affirming that it helped transform the movie from a theatrical disappointment into one of the most popular films of the 1990s.
Bad Boys for Life (2020)
[Image Credit: Sony Pictures]
We didn't get to watch Mike Lowry (Will Smith) and Miles Burnett (Martin Lawrence) build their friendship — they had been buddies for years when we first met them in BAD BOYS in 1995. But age has a way of changing people, and by the time of BAD BOYS FOR LIFE Marcus is ready to retire, which begins to strain their bond. Even after Mike is nearly killed, Marcus stays away… but the combustible, violent events of this movie bring Mike and Marcus back together again for a test of their ride-or-die devotion that neither of them could see coming. This isn't just the best of the BAD BOYS movies; it's actually warm — and that's not just all the explosions.
[Image Credit: Universal Pictures]
Change can be difficult, especially for someone who has relied on friendship to keep them going through difficult times. (Just ask Mike and Marcus from the BAD BOYS movies.) It's even tougher when that friend is about to go through their own big evolution. That's where Annie (Kristen Wiig) finds herself in BRIDESMAIDS. She's a failed baker in her mid-30s whose lifelong best friend, Lillian (Maya Rudolph) is about to get married. Annie agrees to be Maid of Honor at the wedding but is unraveling too fast to live up to any of the planning that position requires. It's not long before her friendship is threatened, she's making bad romantic decisions, and has to face a buddy rival in the form of top-notch planner Helen (Rose Byrne). Does this mean Annie and Lillian's friendship is lost? Of course not! But BRIDESMAIDS puts them both through the ringer on the road to reconciliation and redemption, and that's all part of the fun.