For September I’m recommending the best that Netflix UK & Ireland has to offer as regards male buddy movies.
The Odd Couple
dir. Gene Saks – ★★★★★
The Odd Couple was a hit play for Neil Simon and he provided the screenplay for this comedy about two divorcees trying to share an apartment, but struggling to get past their differences.
Walter Matthau plays the slobby sports journalist Oscar and Jack Lemmon plays the uptight, near suicidal, compulsive cleaner Felix. While the film is basically just a filmed play, the quality of the writing and the performances never make you dwell on that too much, the friendship is believable and while it’s played very broad, the humour rings true.
Butch Cassidy & Sundance Kid
dir. George Roy Hill – ★★★★
Paul Newman and Robert Redford play the iconic and eponymous bank robbers forced to start robbing trains carrying the money between banks instead as branch security got too tight. When they find themselves nearly getting caught, they to head to Bolivia hoping for an easier life.
Redford and Newman’s easy chemistry with each other is what makes the film special as well as the fine cinematography of Conrad L. Hall. While obviously glorifying real life criminals is always an issue, my main problem is the over use of montage and also some very sluggish pacing in parts but that’s being very picky. What’s also interesting is while I still think of it as a high jinks almost gentle comedy it’s actually a very violent film particularly its iconic closing scenes which are coincidentally forever immortalised in Spooool’s Facebook cover photo!
Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey
dir. Peter Hewitt – ★★★½
A sequel to “Excellent Adventure” that’s even more surreal than its predecessor.
Evil robots are sent back from the future to destroy Bill & Ted (Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves) because their music has created a utopian society much to the displeasure of Chuck De Nomolos (Joss Ackland). With Bill & Ted now dead, they must try and find their way back and stop the evil robots from replacing them and ruining their legacy. They encounter Death (William Sadler) and accept a challenge to a game off him in return for their souls, a reference to Ingmar Bergman’s “The Seventh Seal” that my young brain didn’t get sitting in the Carlton back in 1992 let me tell you.
Sadler has a riot and Reeves is spectacular playing the simpleton unsure of what’s going on most of the time, a role he perfected in The Matrix (I jest!). It works simply because it’s so dumb and playful that you can’t help but like it. Kiss provided a cover of “God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll to You” for the soundtrack but left out the line about Cliff Richard from Argent’s original sadly.
dir. Peter Segal – ★★★
I was going to recommend Wayne’s World but would like think plenty of people have already seen it and they might not know this less successful Saturday Night Live spin-off. Written by Bonnie and Terry Turner who co-wrote Wayne’s World then went onto write The Brady Bunch Movie and create two massive sitcoms in 3rd Rock from the Sun and That 70’s Show (that should serve as a barometer of the level of comedy).
The films also captures Chris Farley and David Spade at their most likeable and all the best jokes come from their interactions, particular highlights being the singing along to the radio montage and the Fat Man Little Coat scene. The supporting cast is bulked up by Brian Dennehy, Dan Aykroyd, Bo Derek and Rob Lowe (who appears uncredited because he was contracted to be filming The Stand at the same time). While the film is never in any danger of being highbrow someone on IMDB makes a very strong case for the setup and plot mirroring Hamlet, so there is that!
The gender imbalance in this list was forced on me by the way, there really isn’t many female buddy movies on Netflix so if you’d like to recommend some in the comments please do, Whip It was the nearest I got, but it’s more of an ensemble piece.