I'd say the key to a good buddy comedy is the interaction between the two pals. Somewhere around 40 movies could have legitimately made the cut ... but here are the ten I came up with (in alphabetical order):
I'm not sure who thought to put Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy together, but whoever did I hope they were paid well. Nolte's scruffy, gravelly Jack Cates was a perfect foil for Murphy's fast-talking con-man Reggie Hammond. The year was 1982 and Eddie Murphy, Nick Nolte, and Walter Hill were at the top of their game. Like I said, the year was 1982.
The Blues Brothers
Jake, Elwood, and their "mission from God" remain a highlight on director John Landis' resume. Now I know what you're thinking: They're brothers so technically this isn't a buddy comedy. But Jake and Elwood grew up in an orphanage, so anything is possible. What I love about their relationship is how they are almost the same person. They seem to communicate telepathically, or at least seem to be thinking the same thing. They weird, them boys.
The original Lethal Weapon, much like Butch Cassidy, isn't really a comedy, per se, but the franchise definitely headed in that direction. Why? Because everybody's favorite aspect of the movie was the chemistry and give-and-take between Danny Glover and Mel Gibson.
Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin (yes, that Charles Grodin) -- against all odds -- end up being a terrific pairing for one of my very favorite movies. How did this possibly work? De Niro gets to play it mostly straight as hard-ass bounty hunter Jack Walsh. He finds an accountant on the run from the mob in the form of Grodin's Jonathan Mardukas, "The Duke." Grodin knows how to get under De Niro's skin, and you can't help but wonder how much of it was real. Then again, this was when De Niro was a really, really good actor.
The Odd Couple
Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau made a ton of movies together, but no doubt my favorite pairing was Neil Simon's The Odd Couple. The magic of Lemmon's neurotic Felix Unger and Matthau's down-to-earth Oscar Madison has never been successfully matched.
Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Steve Martin and John Candy star in this John Hughes classic about two men trying to get home for Thanksgiving. Martin is the uptight guy; Candy is the loud and abrasive slob -- in case you couldn't have guessed.
Another road-buddy movie, which is probably a genre unto its own. I never in a million years would think to put together Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church but it worked out pretty well, didn't it? Church couldn't care less about attending those wine tastings. He just wanted to spend time with his best friend and away from his impending marriage. The way he humors Giamatti as he rambles on and on about the different flavors he senses in a glass isn't mean-spirited. It's sweet.
Some Like It Hot
Not only a classic buddy movie, but also an original cross-dressing movie. The Godfather of all cross-dressing movies, perhaps. Which would probably make Tootsie the Goodfellas of cross-dressing movies, no? I never got how anyone could be fooled by Jack Lemmon in drag. He was one ugly broad. Now Tony Curtis, I'd buy that gal a drink!
Come on, it doesn't get much better than Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder in bird outfits (woodpeckers, to be exact). This dynamic duo sputtered out (their last film together was 1991's Another You), but lightening struck at least once. Watching Pryor "get bad" as they're walking into prison and teaching the very white, very hair-permed Gene Wilder how to "get bad" made a real strong impression on me as a kid. I "got bad" walking through the hallways of my school for a few months after seeing this on VHS. It may have saved me from two or three beatings. And it probably caused three or four of them.
When Harry Met Sally
This is a bit of a cheat since technically Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan end up together, thereby making this movie more of a romantic comedy rather than a buddy comedy. But here's the thing: For most of the movie, the two of them really are just great buddies. It's not about them having a romantic relationship, it's about them having this natural chemistry that allowed them to be great friends and -- eventually -- mates.
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Dre writes two times a week for Film.com. Email him!