They’ve Got Your Back: The Top 10 Must-See Buddy Movies
Sometimes it does take two to make a thing go right. Our picks for the top ten buddy films of all time are all chosen as archetypes of what to do—and in some cases what not to do—when your friend needs some back up.
1. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Nominated for four Academy Awards in 1969, including Best Picture, Director George Roy Hill’s classic starring Paul Newman and Sundance founder Robert Redford is not only one of the all-time great westerns, it’s also our choice for all-time best buddy film. Perhaps we’re not completely unbiased here, but the chemistry between real life buddies, Redford and Newman, is truly electric. The tagline for the film sums it up beautifully, “You’ve never met a pair like Butch and The Kid.” We agree completely.
2. The Killing Fields
Based on a true story, this movie explores the complex and heart-wrenching relationship between New York Times reporter Sydney Schanberg (Sam Waterston) and his friend/partner Cambodian journalist Dith Pran (Haing S. Ngor). Set during the rise and fall of the Khmer Rouge in the ’70s, the movie follows Schanberg and Pran, correspondents in the field and individuals struggling through the harrowing experiences that follow their tragic separation. Dith Pran’s unfailing love and loyalty is the core of this elegy to the human spirit.
3. Natural Born Killers
In many ways this is an “anti-buddy” film, which challenges the idea of the genre with a duo of disturbingly merciless murderers. But there are two additional conspiratorial buddies besides Mickey (Woody Harrelson) and Mallory (Juliette Lewis) in this film: the media and the audience. It’s this relationship (and its perpetualizing of heinous acts) that’s at the heart of this incendiary film.
4. Midnight Run
Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin are delightful as the heroes in this classic buddy comedy from 1988. Directed by Martin Brest, the movie features brilliant comedic sparring between the two actors throughout, as well as laugh out loud performances from veteran character actors like Joe Pantoliano, Dennis Farina, Yaphet Kotto and John Ashton.
5. Thelma & Louise
Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon (in the title roles) show that women could deliver the same banter, drama and edginess as their male counterparts. Aside from its six Oscar nominations and empowering message, the movie also introduced the world to a then-unknown, soon-to-be-superstar: Brad Pitt.
6. Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey
Believe it or not, director Peter Hewitt’s sequel to the cult classic Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure is a very funny movie. Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter’s portrayals of the affable morons in this “idiot buddy” franchise were clear inspirations for future cult favorties like, Dude, Where’s My Car?, Wayne’s World and Harold & Kumar.
7. Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot
So bad it’s good is the unfathomable combo of Sylvester Stallone and Estelle Getty in this now legendary early-’90s bomb. With three Golden Raspberry Awards (Stallone as Worst Actor, Getty as Worst Supporting Actress and of course Worst Screenplay), Stop! really is a must-see for those that can’t turn away from a horrible accident and wish to study the very bottom of the buddy genre barrel.
8. Double Impact
In 1991, John Claude Van Damme upped the ante by casting Jean Claude Van Damme with the unlikely buddy of, you guessed it, Jean Claude Van Damme. In this opus to himself (which he co-produced and co-authored), this action flick is worth seeing for a few reasons. 1. It’s a reminder that you should be your own best friend. 2. For the clothes. Don’t miss Van Damme’s aqua blue polo shirt, hot pink pleated short shorts, Vuitton garment bag and his opalescent spandex and cut-collar Flashdance shirt.
9. Lethal Weapon
Emphasizing action over comedy, Lethal Weapon injected more testosterone into the genre and managed to sustain a loyal following through its many sequels. While Gibson and Glover had fun and good chemistry, it’s perhaps the fine tuning of the genre towards an emphasis on action over comedy that’s most remarkable about Lethal Weapon
10. 48 Hrs.
Many point to this 1982 comedy starring Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte as the first “cop buddy” film. With predecessors like In the Heart of the Night and Freebie and the Bean, that’s definitely debatable, but one thing is for sure: 48 Hours did mark a turning point in Hollywood’s commitment to the buddy genre. From that point forward, studios would attempt to repeat this formula, often to great box office success.