Ten Movie Bromances
The bromace – from “bro” and “romance” - might sound like a recent addition to the pop culture lexicon to describe a specific genre of platonic male friendship in movies, but the fact is that bromances have been depicted on film for decades. Sometimes they’re called buddy movies, sometimes they’re called double acts, but the common thread has always been the same: two guys who can say “I love you, man” on screen and not feel the slightest embarrassment.
Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis
Over the course of seventeen films, the comedy duo of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis established a bromantic relationship the likes of which Hollywood has only rarely seen since. The straight-man Martin and his comic foil Lewis were inseparable from their first film together, 1949s My Friend Irma to their final collaboration, Hollywood or Bust in 1956. However, by the time that film was released, their partnership had already dissolved. The two went on to find even greater success as solo acts but would only rarely appear again in public together, and never on film.
Paul Newman & Robert Redford
Newman and Redford came to personify enduring male friendship in George Roy Hill’s 1969 western Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, which followed the story of the real-life outlaws all the way to their final standoff on the side of a cliff in Bolivia, a fate they shared together, hand in hand. Newman and Redford’s chemistry was such that they repeated the double act four years later in 1973s The Sting, again for George Roy Hill, playing a pair of con-men who team up to fleece the gangster responsible for the death of their friend. Both films were blockbusters.
Oskar Werner & Henri Serre
Werner and Serre play two best friends in love with the same woman in New Wave director Francois Truffaut’s poignant 1962 drama Jules et Jim. Truffaut might have cast his muse (and lover) Jeanne Moreau as Catherine, the woman in the middle, but you will notice how the film isn’t titled Jules et Jim et Catherine. That tells you all you need to know about the central relationship in the film, as the two men remain the best of friends even as their love for a beautiful girl pushes them apart, and back together again.
Tim Robbins & Morgan Freeman
Shawshank Prison is not a place where you’d want to be without a friend. As the recently convicted Andy and the veteran jailbird Red, Robbins and Freeman form an unlikely but enduring friendship in Frank Darabont’s adaptation of Stephen King’s short story The Shawshank Redemption. As much as the film tells the story of Andy’s desperate attempts to break out of the grim prison, Darabont paints a touching portrait of male bonding as former banker Andy and the astute Red attempt to break free from the system that has almost destroyed them. The film was considered a flop on release in 1994, but has since attained enormous popular success and is currently the number one rated title on IMDb.com.
Will Ferrell & John C Reilly
Friends for years, Ferrel and Reilly first teamed up for Adam McKay’s 2006 auto-racing comedy Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby and rekindled their on-screen relationship two years later for the same director’s dysfunctional family comedy Step Brothers. The pair have also collaborated on a number of hilarious shorts for Ferrell’s Funny or Die website, with Ferrell playing David Bowie and Reilly doing a spot-on Bing Cosby impression in a remake of The Little Drummer Boy video in 2010 and, last year, doubling for the Beastie Boys in the long-form music video for the band’s Fight For Your Right Revisited release.
Mark Duplass & Joshua Leonard
In Lynn Shelton’s taboo-busting 2009 comedy Humpday, the bromance between Duplass’ Ben and Leonard’s Andrew is taken to another level entirely when they agree to take part in an art project that requires them to film an erotic film, together. Just how far are Ben and Andy prepared to take their previously strictly platonic love for one another? Director Shelton (who also plays the part of female friend Monica) shows an extraordinary ability to test the limits of male friendship in a funny and perceptive way, with all of the dialogue in the film being improvised by the actors.
Mel Gibson & Danny Glover
Cop movies have always thrived on unconventional partnerships but as Riggs and Murtaugh in Richard Donner’s blockbuster 1987 franchise-opener Lethal Weapon, Gibson and Glover transcend the buddy-cop clichés to establish a genuine on-screen relationship based on mutual love and respect, the sensible veteran Glover balancing Gibson’s eyeball-popping hotshot. The pair would revive their partnership for a further three films, concluding with 1998s Lethal Weapon 4, with Donner directing the entire series.
Jon Favreau & Vince Vaughn
Credited with reviving the “bromance” for a new generation, Doug Liman’s 1996 cult comedy Swingers is the epitome of close male friendship on screen, with real-life friends Favreau and Vaughan playing a couple of L.A. wannabes who take a trip to Las Vegas in order to help one of them get over a break-up. The pair met on the 1993 sports film Rudy, with Favreau basing his script on their shared Hollywood adventures. They have made a further four films together since, most notably playing a couple of failed boxers who get caught up with gangsters in Favreau’s 2001 comedy Made.
Elijah Wood & Sean Astin
As Frodo Baggins and his incredibly loyal friend and fellow Hobbit Samwise Gamgee, Wood and Astin undertake a heroic quest to save Middle Earth in Peter Jackson’s epic trilogy based on Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Time and again Sam puts himself into harms way to save the ring-bearing Frodo, rescuing him from drowning and vicious monsters and, finally, carrying him on his back up the side of an erupting volcano, while staring into his eyes. Now, that’s bromantic.
Ben Affleck & Matt Damon
Childhood friends Affleck and Damon grew up in the same neighbourhood in Boston and achieved success early on in their careers, winning the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for 1998 film Good Will Hunting, in which they also co-starred. Although their on-screen relationship has been limited to cameo appearances in their mutual friend Kevin Smith 1999 comedy Dogma, they are both attached to star in an upcoming biopic of notorious Boston gangster Whitey Bulger, which Affleck will also direct. Their celebrated friendship has been the subject of a smash-hit off-Broadway play titled Matt and Ben, which told the story of their rise to fame.