Our singing endorsement
From cringe-worthy to actually spectacular, there’s nothing quite like a great karaoke scene on screen. Actors get to show off their singing chops (or lack thereof), creating memorable comedic and sometimes romantic moments. So EW is flipping through the cinematic catalog to pick some of the most memorable movie karaoke performances… plus one honorable mention.
The Sun Is Also a Star (2019)
Daniel Bae (Charles Melton) is trying to convince Natasha Kingsley (Yara Shahidi) of the power of love and destiny — in a single day. He tries to clinch it with a sexy karaoke number, singing the 1968 Tommy James and the Shondells song “Crimson and Clover.” And it works! The dulcet tones of 1960s soft pop so win over Natasha they spark an entire dream montage of their life together and then a hot and heavy makeout sesh. Daniel should think about using that move over and over. —Maureen Lee Lenker
Like Father (2018)
Netflix’s movie Like Father asks viewers to come sail away, physically and vocally, with stars Kristen Bell and Kelsey Grammer — they play an estranged daughter and father who bond on what should’ve been her honeymoon cruise and eventually perform a rousing karaoke rendition of the Styx classic “Come Sail Away” … on a cruise ship! See what they did there? —Gerrad Hall
500 Days of Summer (2009)
Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) does not go lightly into that karaoke night: Every part of his sweaty, passionate rendition of the Pixies’ “Here Comes Your Man” during a happy-hour outing with his co-workers from an L.A. greeting card company is turned all the way to 11 — maybe (definitely) for the benefit of his office crush, the elusive Summer (Zooey Deschanel). —Leah Greenblatt
Bridget Jones's Diary (2001)
In her mind, Renee Zellweger’s perpetually messy Bridget is a beautiful songbird; at her office Christmas party, she is an inebriated emu, somehow murdering both the high and low notes of Badfinger’s classic soft-rock ballad “Without You.” But her no-encore performance does get the attention of her suave boss (Hugh Grant). —Leah Greenblatt
The Cable Guy (1996)
Leather jeans? Check. A fringed suede jacket? Check. Mic check? Check.
Jefferson Airplane may have belted out “Somebody to Love” first, but in The Cable Guy, it’s Jim Carrey’s turn.
With his quirkly lisp, wacky energy, and tinny vocal quiver, Carrey’s cable guy Chip flails around against the backdrop of a psychedelic karaoke screen, hip-thrusting and shimmying his way across a house party as the elderly crowd, his “preferred clients,” get their groove on.
It’s the perfect performance from a character suffering such intense isolation that when unsuspecting cable customer Steven (Matthew Broderick) bribes Chip for free movie channels, Chip takes it as a gesture of friendship and starts to stalk Steven and sabotage his life in his quest for a buddy.
The dark comedy weaves a cautionary tale of the isolating impact of television consumption on society, but in this one moment, Chip finds a temporary happiness as he takes center-stage amid his dancing “preferred customers,” and for a short time that night, finds himself loved back. —Piya Sinha-Roy
I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998)
Don’t you just love when your best friend wins an all-expenses trip to the Bahamas and then forces you to sing Gloria Gaynor in an empty beach bar and you realize you’re pretty good and then a killer ruins your stage confidence by sneaking “I still know… what you did last summer” into the lyrics of “I Will Survive” on the karaoke machine?
Yeah, neither did Jennifer Love Hewitt. After surviving the hook-handed killer in I Know What You Did Last Summer, Hewitt returns as Julie James in the slasher sequel, this time hunted in the rain on a tropical island with her friends. But luckily, she at least got to sashay her way through half of “I Will Survive,” egged on by her friend Brandy (Norwood, of “The Boy is Mine” fame).
“Everyone’s a goddamn singer,” rasps the unamused bartender Nancy (Jennifer Esposito). Indeed they are… until a psycho killer shows up. —Piya Sinha-Roy
Lost in Translation (2003)
A lonely young photographer’s wife (Scarlett Johansson) and an existentially jet-lagged movie star (Bill Murray) come together in a Tokyo hotel in Sofia Coppola’s melancholy almost-romance. Neither speak any Japanese, but karaoke is the international language — as they find out in one iconic scene when Johansson’s Charlotte dons a pink wig and sings the Pretenders’ “Brass in Pocket” and Murray’s Bob doubles down on Elvis Costello’s “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding” and the Roxy Music ballad “More Than This.” —Leah Greenblatt
My Best Friend's Wedding (1997)
There’s an old myth about karaoke – the worse you are, the better you’re received. It’s a revelation put to great use in My Best Friend’s Wedding, where Julia Roberts plays Jules, a woman on a mission to sabotage the marriage of her best friend Michael (the dreamy Dermot Mulroney) to the beautiful, sweet Kimmy (Cameron Diaz).
Her first plan of attack? Karaoke.
After Kimmy tells Michael how much she doesn’t want to do karaoke at a crowded bar, Jules supports her and tells Michael to leave her alone – only to take the mic, introduce the “dazzling vocal stylings of Miss Kimberly Wallace” and turn the spotlight on a shocked Cameron Diaz, who should have seen Jules’ actions for what they were – pure, unfiltered, backstabbing betrayal.
Jules sits back in her chair, her eyes trained on Kimmy with the hint of a villainous smile. As the opening notes of The White Stripes’ “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself” ring out across the crowded bar, Kimmy starts shakily warbling the lyrics as she goes off key. Her fiancé looks at her with a blank expression, his mouth slightly open. The room is silent, pierced by a heckle. Is this the moment Jules wins?
And then something miraculous happens. As Kimmy powers through with all the wrong notes, the crowd start to clap and cheer. Kimmy embraces her bad singing as the crowd claps along and Michael looks at her besotted, while Jules smiles and shakes her head as she pity-claps for the poor, sweet Kimmy who can’t sing a single note.
“That was terrible,” Michael tells Kimmy as the song ends and he kisses her, and it’s Jules’ turn to be caught by surprise. Because, dear reader, it turns out that true love transcends bad singing. —Piya Sinha-Roy
The Night Before (2015)
Joseph Gordon-Levitt finds the magic mic again, this time with Seth Rogen and Anthony Mackie as three best friends with a Christmas Eve tradition of putting on their loudest holiday sweaters, karaoke-ing Run-DMC’s “Christmas in Hollis,” and ingesting as many class-A drugs as they can. ”Hollis”’s fistful-of-glitter finale feels like a highlight, until the movie one-ups itself with another climactic singalong: Gordon-Levitt and his new friend Miley Cyrus duetting on a messy spoken-word “Wrecking Ball” to win back his Miley-fangirl ex (Lizzy Caplan). —Leah Greenblatt
If a Teddy bear can talk and walk and be best friends with Mark Wahlberg, what rule of movie magic says he can’t do karaoke too? His floor-rolling rendition of Hootie & the Blowfish’s “Only Wanna Be With You” pretty much brings the house down. Yes, in between verses he accidentally stabs a guy in the hand during a knife trick, but he is a bear of infinite wisdom, too. As he tells the crowd before going on to show them exactly how: “You can do any ‘90s song with just vowels.” —Leah Greenblatt
Up in the Air (2009)
Anna Kendrick earned her first Oscar nomination as a type-A junior executive stuck on an odd-couple business trip with human resources expert George Clooney, and it’s nice to think that the scene that clinched it was the one where she gets brutally dumped by her boyfriend via text and mournfully, shoelessly sings Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” to a room full of oblivious bar patrons. (Her pitch? Not perfect. But she means every note.) —Leah Greenblatt
When Harry Met Sally (1989)
Karaoke technology is so new in the ‘80s that the songs actually play from a double cassette tape, and there’s a little paper printout for the lyrics. But it’s not hard for Harry (Billy Crystal) to get Sally (Meg Ryan) onboard for an in-store duet of Oklahoma’s “Surrey with the Fringe on Top.” It even takes her a few stanzas to notice that Harry’s gone stone-cold quiet when he sees his ex, Helen — hand-in-hand with her new boyfriend — across the room. —Leah Greenblatt
Honorable Mention: 27 Dresses (2008)
A cynical weddings reporter decides to write a big profile on a single, naively optimistic woman who’s happily always the bridesmaid – 27 times to be precise. Now, there’s no real reason for these two attractive singletons (Katherine Heigl and James Marsden) to come together, but then again, never underestimate the power of a dive bar, shots, and the slightly mumbled lyrics of Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jets.”
While this technically isn’t actually karaoke, this scene from 27 Dresses is worth an honorable mention for the epic singalong, as Heigl’s Jane and Marsden’s Kevin lead the dive bar patrons into belting out and butchering the lyrics of the 1973 classic. Soon, Jane becomes a dancing queen atop the bar while Kevin confesses that he did indeed cry “like a baby” at the Keller wedding, revealing that mushy core inside his cynical exterior.
It’s not smooth-sailing for these two, but at least in this moment, the pair both let down their guards for a steamy vehicular hook-up, perhaps the best outcome one can hope for after an impromptu drunken sing-along session… which definitely wouldn’t have been as funny had it been proper karaoke and the lyrics were on a monitor in front of them. —Piya Sinha-Roy