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5 Buddy Films You Must See

13 05 2011

Buddy films have been chosen as the next entry in the “5 Films You Must See” series.  What constitutes a buddy film?  Well, really nothing other than the story revolves around two or more really good friends, with their friendship being a major motivator of the plot.  My girlfriend wanted me to add in that my list below is distinctly guy buddy films and, honestly, it is.  What I would consider a girl buddy film would most likely fall under “chick flick” for me, of which, I doubt I will create a list for, though I did strongly consider including Thelma and Louise.

Copyright 1996 Independent Pictures

5. Swingers dir. Doug Liman (1996) – This movie is absolutely hilarious and was the star-making roles that really started off the careers of Vince Vaughn, John Favreau and Ron Livingston.  Favreau plays Mike(y), a down-on-his-luck comedian, who recently moved to Los Angeles from New York, ending a six year relationship with his girlfriend.  Mike can’t get his ex out of his head and refuses to get back in the game.  His friends, Trent (Vaughn), Rob (Livingston) and Sue (Patrick Van Horn), try to get him to loosen up and let her go.  Much of the film is the different buddies interacting or gambling in Las Vegas, going to clubs or trying to cheer Mike up.  The dialog in the film is so sharp, however, that the easy flowing plot really doesn’t matter.  Accompanied by an upbeat jazz score, this is 1990s comedy at its best.  Also, after a first viewing, don’t be surprised to find yourself referring to everything as “money” in your personal life.  I’ve seen this film at least 10 times and it never gets old – definitely a must see!

Copyright 1987 Handmade Films

4. Withnail and I dir. Bruce Robinson (1987) –  This seminal British comedy is one of my personal favorites on this list, though I love them all.  A semi-autobiographical film from writer/director Robinson, this film follows the lives of Withnail (Richard E. Grant) and I (Paul McGann) in 1969 London town.  Living in a small, rundown apartment, the two out-of-work actors spend their days drinking, doing drugs and going on weekend benders.  For a change of pace, the two take up Withnail’s flamboyantly gay uncle, Monty (Richard Griffiths) on a trip to his country cottage.  Thinking it will be a relaxing getaway to the country, the two find it to be anything but.  They have a hard time getting food, it is cold and raining and the cottage itself is in shambles.  Unexpectedly, Monty shows up at the cottage in the middle of the night and begins hitting on Paul McGann’s character during their stay because Withnail told Monty he was closeted.  In the end, the relaxing getaway turns out to be anything but and challenges the relationship between the two protagonists.  Having had a period myself where I spent many nights in the bar and out of work, this is a very relatable film for me and, coincidentally, I have a friend that is very reminiscent of Withnail who was a frequent drinking buddy.  Watching this film always makes me nostalgic about that time in my life; though it wasn’t productive, it was a lot of fun.  Everything about this film works: the writing is great, the direction is precise and the acting is brilliant by all involved.  Like Swingers, this film will also give you many quotable lines to use in daily life.  Scrubbers!!!

Copyright 1980 Universal Pictures

3. The Blues Brothers dir. John Landis (1980) – I’m sure most of you have probably seen this film at some point in your lives.  Starting out as a Saturday Night Live skit with John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, the feature film version is the definitive story of Jake and Elwood Blues.  When Jake (Belushi) gets out of a three year stint in prison, him and his brother Elwood (Aykroyd) visit the Roman Catholic orphanage where they grew up.  They find that the orphanage will close unless $5,000 of property taxes are collected within 11 days.  The brothers decide they should get their old Rhythm and Blues band back together to help the church with benefit concerts.  Being on a “mission from God”, the two set out recruiting all the old musicians.  Over the course of the film, they run into all sorts of precarious situations with the police, a crazy ex-girlfriend, rowdy country bars and other situations.  Guest appearances by many famous musicians including Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, John Lee Hooker and Chaka Chan, among others, appear throughout.  The final chase scene is probably one of the biggest chases and car pile ups committed to film.  This film is infinitely entertaining and has so many great scenes and musical numbers that it easily ranks as one of the best movies from an SNL skit beginning.

Copyright 1969

2. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid dir. George Roy Hill (1969) – This is a perfectly formatted buddy film because almost everything revolves around the friendship of the two main characters, Butch (Paul Newman) and Sundance (Robert Redford).  The leaders of the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang, the whole film follows the two and their gang going through successful and unsuccessful robberies of trains and banks.  As a side story is the relationship between Sundance and school teacher Etta Place (Katherine Ross).  Going from one robbery to the next, the two eventually find themselves cornered by the Bolivian calvary and the film ends with on of the most memorable and climatic endings of the 1960s.

Copyright 1959 Ashton Productions

1. Some Like it Hot dir. Billy Wilder (1959) – Billy Wilder constantly ranks as one of my favorite filmmakers.  If you look at a list of his credits, you will be astounded by the many classic films that were made under his helm.  This one is probably my favorite comedy of his.  It revolves around two struggling musicians, Jerry (Jack Lemmon) and Joe (Tony Curtis), who witness the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.  The leader of the gang who authorized the massacre, “Spats” Colombo (George Raft in a role parodying his former roles in 1930s and 1940s gangster dramas), see the two of them at the scene of the crime and they run for their lives.  They join an all-female band heading to Florida in disguise as Josephine and Daphne.  The all-female band is lead by bandleader “Sugar” Kane (Marilyn Monroe).  Joe falls for her deeply and tries to romance her in yet another disguise as a wealthy businessman with Cary Grant-like mannerisms, all the while keeping up the female disguise as Josephine when needed to not blow his cover.  When the gangsters show up to Florida at the hotel the band is playing, the disguises become harder and harder to keep up.  The final scenes of the film are filled with hilarious chases and mishaps and the final line of the film, “Well, nobody’s perfect” has become one of cinema’s most famous closing lines.

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Go (1999) Review

6 05 2011

Copyright 1999 Columbia Pictures

★ ★ ★ ★

Doug Liman’s previous effort, Swingers, is one of my favorite comedies of all-time.  I think every time a relationship ends, I watch that movie for moral support and to remember that I’m money baby.  Anyway, I’d had this film sitting in my queue for quite some time with a definite interest to watch it, but for some reason always passed it over for something else.  I’m glad I finally sat down and watched it last night, it was well worth the watching.

The story, by John August, kind of plays out like Pulp Fiction; however, rather than hoodlums and gangsters occupying the intertwining stories, it’s a group of teenagers and 20-somethings.  There are three main stories in the film which follow the characters of Ronna (Sarah Polley), who is a cashier at a local grocer who cons a drug dealer; Simon (Desmond Askew), a fellow cashier who gets involved way over his head on a trip to Las Vegas with his buddies; and Adam (Scott Wolf) and Zack (Jay Mohr), a couple of television detectives who are having to help a real detective to get a drug charge dropped.  All three of these stories flow into and out of one another in a very cohesive and entertaining script that takes place over the course of one night.  There’s comedy, drama and action all bundled into one in this one and it actually pulls it all off quite well.

Like Swingers, Liman shot this film in addition to directing it.  It has the same raw quality with lots of handheld shots and a grainy, pushed negative look.  For this type of film, that kind of direction and camerawork actually works really well.  To me, this is where Liman as a director succeeds the most, and I’d love to see him come back and make some more films like this one and Swingers at some point in his career.

The ensemble cast all do a great job and, as previously mentioned, the script is very tight and solid.  I could understand some people not liking the multiple intertwining storyline structure here, but I fall flat for them.  I loved it in Pulp Fiction, loved it in Short Cuts, love it in this film and love it in many others.  I’ve said before that I feel characters are the real crux of what make good stories and, in my opinion, films like this with large, developed ensembles interacting with each other on multiple levels, makes for a great film.

So, if you like Swingers and think you would like something that is kind of Pulp Fiction Lite, then I would highly recommend this film.  It’s not necessarily a deep movie, but it is a hell of a lot of fun to watch.








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