thelma and louise
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Best Buddy Comedy Movies of All Time

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thelma and louise
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Dynamic Duos

Buddy movies stretch back to the days of Laurel and Hardy but the formula hit its stride in the 1980s with the success of films like “Stir Crazy,” “48 Hrs,” and “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.” The films usually throw two people from very different circumstances into a situation where they have to work together. The stories are especially effective if the parties don’t like each other and eventually come to understand or at least learn to appreciate one another by the end of the film. Here are some of the best comedies of the buddy genre.


Related: The Highest-Grossing Movie the Year You Were Born

‘Some Like it Hot’ (1959)
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‘Some Like it Hot’ (1959)

A buddy film in drag. Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis are musicians who hide from gangsters in the midst of an all-female band in one of director Billy Wilder’s most popular films. “It's a whacky, clever, farcical comedy that starts off like a firecracker and keeps on throwing off lively sparks till the very end,” says Variety. Wilder and Lemmon were both nominated for Oscars. 


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Related: 21 Groundbreaking Movies That Boomers Love

‘The Odd Couple’ (1968)
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‘The Odd Couple’ (1968)

When their marriages fall apart, two friends (Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau) decide to room together, straining their relationship in a variety of amusing ways. Neil Simon was nominated for an Oscar for the screenplay based on his Broadway hit. The story also became a long-running TV series later on.


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Related: 20 Popular Movies You Didn’t Realize Were Remakes

butch cassidy
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‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ (1969)

Maybe the best onscreen pairing of all time finds Paul Newman (Butch) and Robert Redford (Sundance) as real-life outlaws who decide to go straight when things get too hot. The film won four Oscars including Best Song (“Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head”) and best score (Burt Bacharach). It was also nominated for Best Picture and Best Director (George Roy Hill).


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Related: 30 Greatest Western Movies Ever Made, According to Critics


‘Stir Crazy’ (1980)
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‘The Blue Brothers’ (1980)
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‘The Blue Brothers’ (1980)

In a break from their day jobs on “Saturday Night Live,” John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd teamed up as Jake and Elwood Blues who embark on “a mission from God” to save the orphanage where they were raised. The duo sticks together for everything that director John Landis can throw at them including explosions, car chases, and other assorted mayhem.


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‘48 Hrs’ (1982)
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‘48 Hrs’ (1982)

In a twist from the typical buddy cop movies, a jaded detective (Nick Nolte) and a wisecracking convict (Eddie Murphy in his first film) have 48 hours to find a killer in San Francisco. The New York Times calls it “a male-buddy action film that’s positively witty and warm-hearted.”


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‘Night Shift’ (1982)
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‘Night Shift’ (1982)

A mild-mannered clerk (Henry Winkler) and a wacky “idea man” (Michael Keaton) run a prostitution ring out of a city morgue in director Ron Howard’s second film. Howard reportedly gave his “Happy Days” co-star a choice between the two characters and Winkler went with the more subdued role. “I thought I’d play Ritchie Cunningham for once,” he said in an interview. That allowed newcomer Keaton to run wild in scene after scene. Keep an eye out for Kevin Costner, listed as Frat Boy #1 in the credits, as well as Howard in some uncredited cameos.


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Trading Places’ (1983)
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‘Trading Places’ (1983)

An investor (Dan Aykroyd) and a con artist (Eddie Murphy) join forces to get back at a pair of millionaires who manipulated them in a bizarre social experiment in this John Landis film. “Murphy and Aykroyd are perfect foils for each other,” says the Chicago Sun-Times.


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‘Running Scared’ (1986)
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‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles
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‘Midnight Run’ (1988)
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‘Midnight Run’ (1988)

A bounty hunter (Robert De Niro) has to transport a bookkeeper (Charles Grodin) who embezzled $15 million from the mob and jumped bail across the country in 72 hours, pursued by the FBI, gangsters, and another bounty hunter. It’s a long, funny trip as the pair comes to an understanding. You’d think De Niro would be the straight man in this one but he gets a lot of good lines. Variety calls it “One of the most entertaining, best executed, original road pictures ever.”


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‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
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‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’ (1988)

Two con men (Steve Martin and Michael Caine) compete for the affections of a young heiress in order to separate her from her money. Director Frank Oz’s remake of the 1964 film “Bedtime Story” (with Marlon Brando and David Niven) pits Martin’s broad comedic style against Caine’s refined charm. “The film’s comic timing is nearly flawless,” says The New York Times.


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‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ (1988)
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‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ (1988)

The combination of live-action and animation was almost as unexpected to theatergoers as the pairing of a hard-nosed detective (Bob Hoskins) hired to clear the name of a cartoon rabbit. But it works beautifully under the guidance of director Robert Zemeckis. “A film whose best moments are so novel, so deliriously funny, and so crazily unexpected that they truly must be seen to be believed,” says The New York Times. It topped the box office in a year full of memorable films.


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‘Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure’ (1989)
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‘Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure’ (1989)

Two dull time-hopping teens (Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter) gather historical figures to help them with a report for school – with the fate of the world hanging in the balance. Goofy? Absolutely, but it found enough of a following to merit two sequels despite mixed reviews from critics.


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thelma and louise
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Thelma and Louise (1991)

With an ending not unlike “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” this sharply written (it won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay) earned Oscar nods for stars Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon. Though much is made of the feminist themes, the friendship between the two road-tripping pals is not only convincing — it’s full of witty, hysterical dialogue. 


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‘Dumb and Dumber’
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‘Dumb and Dumber’ (1994)

Speaking of goofy, the cross-country misadventures of friends Harry (Jeff Daniels) and Lloyd (Jim Carrey) gave directors Peter and Bobby Farrelly their first big hit. “The wholeheartedness of this descent into crude and rude humor is so good-natured and precise that it’s hard not to partake in the guilty pleasures of the exercise,” says Variety.


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Toystory
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‘Toy Story’ (1995)

Two toys (voiced by Tom Hanks and Tim Allen) compete to be their owner’s favorite and then have to find a way to work together when they are lost in the move to a new house. The Pixar film was the first fully computer-animated movie. Director John Lasseter won a special achievement Oscar and Randy Newman’s song “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” was also nominated.


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Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion
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Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion (1997)

Mira Sorvino and Lisa Kudrow expertly play the underachieving leads in this cult comedy, which initially seems like fluffy fun but reveals some surprising truths about being an outsider in high school — plus, there’s a standout performance from Janeane Garofalo. The Los Angeles Times said, “Beneath the endless silliness of the movie beats a real heart.”


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Related: 26 Best Hollywood Movies About Getting Older


‘Men in Black’ (1997)
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‘Baby Mama’ (2008)
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‘Baby Mama’ (2008)

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler were magic together on “Saturday Night Live,” and as a single executive (Fey) and the lower-class surrogate mother she hires (Poehler), the two elevate the traditional comedy. As the Sydney Herald said, “It is a lot of fun, thanks to the skill with which Fey and Poehler play to one another's strengths.”


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‘The Hangover’ (2009)
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‘The Hangover’ (2009)

This film neatly stretches the buddy movie concept to include a group of friends navigating an exceptionally unusual bachelor party in Las Vegas. Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifinakis have to piece together what happened the prior night and get the missing bachelor (Justin Bartha) back home in time for the wedding. The Hollywood Reporter calls it “A piercingly funny, twisted ‘whatever-happens-in-Vegas’ caper.”


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‘The Heat’ (2013)
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‘The Heat’ (2013)

Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy take the buddy cop genre in a different direction as an uptight FBI officer (Bullock) and a foul-mouthed Boston cop (McCarthy) thrown together to track an elusive drug lord.  “It shouldn't work nearly as well as it does,” says Rolling Stone, “but never underestimate the value of great casting.”


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Related: The Best (and Worst) Movie Remakes of All Time

‘Booksmart’ (2019)
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‘Booksmart’ (2019)

This unexpected comedy about two high school pals (Beanie Feldstein, Kaitlyn Dever) who realize they’ve spent too much of their time studying and not enough acting up was directed by fellow actress Olivia Wilde. The Times UK gave it a thumbs up (as 96% of critics did, according to Rotten Tomatoes and said it was “witty, raucous, perfectly played and eventually packs an emotional wallop.”


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