I vividly recall the rise of "buddy action comedies." I give the credit to Lethal Weapon, the franchise laying in wait for then-golden boy Mel Gibson, fresh off his Mad Max and long before his Hollywood come-uppance. Some may attribute them to Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid, but the mid-'80s is when they took hold with such a magnificent grace that the studios began churning them out like crazy, culminating in movies with Tom Hanks and a dog or Steve Guttenberg in a robot. Or maybe those even came before. The point is, the "buddy movie" has produced must-sees for dudes everywhere.
1. Lethal Weapon: Fact is, Lethal Weapon was the shit. Gibson and (Danny) Glover just struck a chord, the malcontent and the totally content. Long before Joe Pesci and Chris Rock came along to steal thunder, this was the story of a guy with no reason to live being paired with one just getting ready to. Retirement within his grasp, Glover wasn't looking for trouble but he found it in a partner. He also found the most go-to guy of his life though. I'm talking the kind that doesn't leave ya hanging when you're on a toilet rigged to blow once you get off it. Now that's friendship.
2. Rush Hour: It reeked of rip-off, with a trailer that induced cringing. But lo and behold Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker did the same darn thing as Gibson and Glover: They found a rhythm. The knowledge that Chan was there doing his own stunts and Tucker was ad-libbing like a son of a gun only elevated Brett Ratner at his best action sequences. They might not have exacted the friendship of who they were so blatantly riffing on, but they sure as hell exacted the chemistry.
3. Men in Black: It's really kinda Lethal Weapon with aliens and the ethnicities reversed. But, again, in the hands of the right actors, you got yourself a goldmine. Will Smith's star-making turn is a highlight, but the slow burn of Tommy Lee Jones' quasi-bored, seen-it-all-before agent is ultimately what seals the deal. Sure, we saw Jones do this exact same thing, and win an Oscar for it, in The Fugitive, but here he does it while winking at the camera the entire time. A thing of beauty.
4. Bill & Ted: Whether it was their Excellent Adventure or Bogus Journey, these two dudes are a trip, and go on epic ones at the same time. Keanu Reeves and... ya know... the other guy... made us feel better about ourselves, both intellectually and as far as partying was concerned. And then the late great George Carlin would show up! What's not to love? Rumor has it, there could even be a third looming. Do I think Reeves can shed his John Wick skin in order to pull it off? Hell yeah, dude.
5. Wayne's World: This is probably the most obtainable of the lot. We've all got a Garth (the inimitable, under-appreciated Dana Carvey) or been the Garth. Rock-loving, air guitar-playing, high-fiving hopeless romantics. If anyone had ever told me Mike Myers could top what he pulled off with Wayne I'd have told them they were crazy—then came Austin Powers (not to mention Shrek). But let's stay focused here: Wayne and Garth doing their own cable access show from the basement, tunes cranking, writing up Top 10 lists of hot girls is all stuff every dude does. Just maybe not the cable access end.
6. Harold & Kumar: This duo's debut, in which a jaunt to White Castle was of the utmost importance, is the stuff of legends. Not because it reintroduced Neil Patrick Harris into the zeitgeist, playing a post-Doogie/pre-Barney swaggering version of himself. It was the destination. That first one, the road trip, the food run. Sure, there were subsequent adventures, but the fact that we were introduced to this pair as a coupla besties hell-bent on getting their fave fast food fix allowed us to get to know who they were, and what they meant to each other, instantaneously. That "life's a journey, not a destination" thing sounds good, but it's blown to pieces when the destination's the Castle.