There have always been prescient pairings in motion pictures. From Laurel and Hardy to Abbott and Costello, the Thin Man and his wife and/or King Kong vs. Godzilla, twosomes tend to dominate the co-star conundrum. Extrapolate it out to three (as in Stooges) or four (as in Marx Brothers) and you still can find the value in numbers. When Hope and Crosby hit the various roads of their many movie adventures, it wasn’t the storyline that kept audiences in stitches. Instead, the setting was merely a mandatory backdrop for the clever cut ups to do what they do best. The same could be said for the current variation on the theme - the buddy movie. From mismatched cops to diametrically opposed lovers, the concept of putting contradictory individuals together to “see what happens” has long been a staple of the cinematic storehouse.
With the home video release of the interesting indie effort All Superheroes Must Die this week, it’s time to look back and really dig into and discuss the duo dynamic. As usual, some caveats. We have specifically avoided the well known efforts like Lethal Weapon, Midnight Run, anything featuring Bill and Ted, or any offering where an animal is a costar (we’re looking at you, K9 and Turner and Hooch). We’ve also expanded the definition a bit to allow for instances where more than one partner causes the problems. Finally, we’ve tried to steer clear of those instances where everything between the pair is sunshine, lollipops, and SOP rainbows. What’s fun about arguing over colleagues who get along? Hopefully, we’ve picked some unusual examples to make the topic a little more tolerable, though we couldn’t help ourselves with the pick at number ten here. It’s a real era-specific artifact…
Equally well known for its issues behind the lens as in front of it (director Andrei Konchalovsky was replaced toward the end of filming by Purple Rain helmer Albert Magnoli) this glorified ‘80s goof has its moments, specifically when costar Stallone sees how partner Russell is required to “drag” things out…if you catch our drift. Coming in at the tail end of Hollywood’s whole bombastic, over the top buddy action addiction, this otherwise puerile mess is memorable in its ridiculousness. It’s as if everyone involved looked over the genre and its excesses in the last few years and said, “We can top that.” And they sure as Hell tried.
Though its low budget leanings can be pretty obvious at times, this is an interesting addition to the whole comic book action movie dynamic. In essence, a super-villain kidnaps his do-gooder rivals, strips them of their power, and then forces them to fend for themselves (and a town full of hostages) in a series of deadly challenges. Along the way, such unknown champions as The Wall, Shadow, and Cutthroat discover who their friends really are, and what it takes to be a true hero. If you compare it to The Avengers or Christopher Nolan’s Batman reboot, you’re missing the point. This movie is more about what it takes to risk it all for humanity, and how that affects not only who you are, but how you relate to your fellow crime fighters as well.
Stoner dudes Jay and Silent Bob learn that their dope dealing comic alter egos - Bluntman and Chronic - are being turned into a major motion picture by Miramax. Hoping for a bit of movie studio cash, they head off on a cross country trip to try and stop production. Yeah - it’s a road movie, and because it’s being helmed by Kevin “Arrested Adolescent” Smith, it is overflowing with tenuous toilet humor. But as an example of why this View Askew pairing continues to be the best thing the indie icon ever invented, you can do much better. Even when they are fighting, Jay and Silent Bob are like an old married couple…just like Smith and co-star/friend Jason Mewes.
Now here’s an oddity - again, perhaps more famous that something surrounding the film than the weird-ass movie itself. Crispin Glover travels the desert with pyramid-scheme pirate Howard Hesseman, all because his mother wants him to make friends and won’t return his stereo until he does. Oh, and there’s a frozen cat involved in the journey as well. Well known for his eccentric behavior, Glover went on the Late Night with David Letterman show dressed as his character, and proceeded to make television history. His was the near head kick heard around the world. The film is flawed, but a great deal of direct indie fun.
Two high school kids, desperate and dateless, decide to crash a party with a promise of alcohol. All manner of Friends of Apatow hijinx ensue. Granted, you could argue that this pair becomes a trio with the introduction of instant classic character McLovin, but for the most part, this film centers around two fringe friends who can’t quite believe the “best years of their lives” are about to end. Sadly the success of this film sparked a return to the ridiculous nonsense of the wanton teen romp (Fun Size, Project X). On the plus side, the stars have all gone on to bigger, better, and in at least one case, Oscar nominated things.