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In every man’s adult life, he should experience two forms of romance: the romance he has with the woman he loves, and the bromance with the guys who are his best friends. Like the good old romantic comedy, the bromance comedy is a staple of American cinema. From “The Odd Couple” and “Animal House” (which won’t be listed, due to how many times I’ve written about it before) all the way until now, the examination of men’s relationships with other men is a great source of fodder for both comedy and honesty.
1. “The Hangover”
Like “The Matrix,” the two subpar sequels really make people forget how good this movie really is. I remember it coming out of fucking nowhere. We all saw the commercials one day and immediately knew this movie was going to be something special. Seeing “The Hangover” in a packed theater with my buddies is still one of the best moviegoing experiences of my life. We laughed, we cried, we hugged each other. It was a great time. The message of “The Hangover” was simple: do whatever it takes for your friends. It took the form of increasingly ridiculous scenarios laid on top of the premise of trying to figure out what the hell happened one fateful night in Vegas, all while they tried to find their lost buddy. Simplicity of theme and complexity in execution–that’s what makes for great movies.
2. “Wayne’s World”
Another perfect example of this type of filmmaking comes in the form of one of the few successful films based on a “Saturday Night Live” sketch. One wouldn’t necessarily have thought that the recurring sketches about two losers who love rock and babes would make for a particularly well made movie, but Mike Myers proved otherwise, and really, it was the perfect premise. Take the two loveable buffoons and show how they react to fame and exploitation. These guys never really wanted popularity or fortune. They just wanted to hang out, talk about shit that they liked, and hopefully score with some honeys. So you take them out of their element, give them money, and see how it can crumble a friendship. And that’s what they learn. We even get to see the two alternate versions of how that story could end, just to make the final, happy ending that much more satisfying.
3. “American Pie”
“American Pie” suffers from the exact same problem that “The Hangover” does. The first two sequels were actually pretty good, but it led to a resurgence of the lowbrow virgin/frat comedy (two separate, but entwined genres) which ultimately diluted the brand. People who want to hate on “American Pie” as an example of male obsession with sex and think of it as a pandering, sexist movie probably didn’t watch it. The movie isn’t about sex. It’s about friendship and growing up. You know who takes advantage of women in that movie? Nobody. Ox discovers his sensitive side, Kevin realizes that his relationship with Vicky is more important than losing his virginity (and they maturely split ways at the end) and Finch is schooled in the art of love by Stiffler’s experienced mom. Jim misses his opportunity with Nadia, gets pumped and dumped by Michelle, and starts a long distance relationship with the foreign exchange girl. It’s actually a pretty tidy, wholesome ending. The ethics and talent massacre that is the group films that spawned from it is a different story.
4. “Wedding Crashers”
This is one of my favorite comedies of all time. The line that it toes is absolutely perfect. If we’re looking at it objectively, John Beckwith and Jeremy Grey are not exactly great human beings starting out. One could even call some of their actions despicable. But they’re inherently likeable, which is what’s most important in the beginning. We need to see them learn from their mistakes and grow as people, but we also don’t want to spend half of a movie waiting for two reprehensible, unlikable people turn into heroes we can cheer for. That’s not how movies work. We would also be mistaken if we believed this was primarily a romantic comedy. Yes, the relationships the guys have with the Cleary sisters are important, but what people forget is this little quote:
“Well, I guess its a little creepy that his best friend made a vow to never let him spend his birthday alone after his parents tragically died one month before his birthday.”
That’s the movie, in a nutshell. Two broken men, friends because of choice and circumstance, working their way through life, and making an effort to remain friends when shit hits the fan. The tension could be anything: a war, a family tragedy, a shared fandom of a perennially horrible sports team. They just happened to choose romance.