What makes a great buddy comedy? That's the question guest editors Key and Peele asked (ahem, assigned) Dalton Ross for this week's column, and it turns out the answer is a little friendship, some teamwork — and a whole lot of neck-wringing rivalry
So it seems that Key and/or Peele wanted me to write a column for the issue they are guest-editing, and he/they thought it would be cool for me to write about buddy comedies. First off, I liked Key and Peele a lot more before they started giving me work to do, so thanks for that, guys. But I do have to admit, the buddy-comedy concept makes sense, especially seeing as how our two guest editors either are great buddies or do an awesome job of pretending to like each other on screen before retreating into their offscreen cocoons of petty resentment and jealousy. (”Why does Key get his name first in the title?” ”How come Peele got to say ‘Liam Neesons’ one more time than I did?”)
Or does the fact that Key and Peele do such a good job of at least maintaining the public facade of friendship mean that they don’t even qualify as buddy comedians? Because many of the best buddy comedies are about people who are not buddies at all, but rather polar opposites brought together through fate, luck, chance…or a series of wild, Hollywood-manufactured high jinks. You think Larry was psyched to have his goofy cousin Balki cramping his (granted, terrible) style on Perfect Strangers? Robert De Niro looked like he wanted to knock Charles Grodin senseless through about 98 percent of Midnight Run. And those weren’t two pillows John Candy stuck his hand between in Planes, Trains & Automobiles. It’s that tension that helps make the humor work. Here are a few of my other favorite I-kinda-want-to-wring-your-neck buddy-comedy adventures.
”We ain’t partners, we ain’t brothers, and we ain’t friends.” I don’t have the hard data to back this up, but I am confident that some variation on that quote has been said in pretty much every single buddy comedy ever. But it was said first and best by Nick Nolte to Eddie Murphy, with the duo making the most incredible odd couple since…well, The Odd Couple.
White Men Can’t Jump
Can I just say that Wesley Snipes’ wardrobe is super distracting in this film? On more than one occasion the dude wears two tank tops at the same time that are each cut almost down to his belly button, and for the life of me I cannot grasp what he is trying to accomplish with that. Also, Woody Harrelson spends an inordinate amount of time in a tie-dyed baseball hat, so, you know, curious wardrobe choices all around. Funny movie, though.
One’s a teenager, and the other is Bill Murray, but make no mistake: Rushmore is ultimately a buddy comedy about a weird bond between two eccentrics who fall for the same woman. The revenge montage between Max and Mr. Blume set to the Who’s ”A Quick One While He’s Away” is pure perfection.
This cheesetastic ’80s romp begins with Shelley Long and Bette Midler choking each other in a morgue and ends with Long defeating the bad guy…through the power of dance! (”Nine years of ballet, a–hole!” Best line ever?) Bonus points for the fact that the initial onscreen animosity extended off screen as well, with Midler later describing her stint working alongside Long as ”pretty rough.” Midler and Long going Method? Now, that’s commitment!