The Odd Couples: Unlikely Hollywood Buddy Duos

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The Internship. Photo: Twentieth Century Fox and Regency Enterprises
The Internship. Photo: Phil Bray/Twentieth Century Fox and Regency Enterprises

Male buddy films are some of the most popular movies around. This summer, Hollywood is bringing us Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson in The Internship, Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx in White House Down and even Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer as the classic Wild West duo in The Lone Ranger. This influx of bro films demonstrates that depictions of “boys being boys” is still wildly popular among all ages and genders, even in a post-feminist era. The Los Angeles Times called this genre "a necessary escapist fantasy" for men. This may be true. Where else can men safely grow emotionally attached to one another without any stigma?

You’d think male buddy films were a novel concept, only recently unearthed. But, as Shakespeare wrote: “There is nothing new under the sun.” Indeed, the same is true is Hollywood. Male-bonding films didn’t start with Pineapple Express or The Hangover and they certainly won't end there. Male buddy duos have been a part of celluloid history since its inception. Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello and Matthau and Lemon have been pervasive throughout American cinema history. Buddy duos come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes human, sometimes Wookiee, and most of the time, endearing. Here are some of the most memorable unlikely buddy duos throughout the ages.

1. Han Solo and Chewbacca

Without a doubt, my favorite unlikely bromance duo. A Wookiee and a human scoundrel. Both outlaws from completely different planets and species. A match made in sci-fi heaven. They could almost complete each other’s sentences, even though the hairier of the two didn’t speak a word of decipherable English. Despite the language barrier, they would risk their lives for one another and did so on at least one occasion thanks to Bounty Hunter Boba Fett and mob boss, Jabba the Hutt.

2. Abbot and Costello

BUD ABBOTT (LEFT) AND LOU COSTELLO (RIGHT) were a comedy duo popular in the 1940s and 1950s
Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. Photo: Wiki Commons

They’ve battled vampires, Frankenstein and the Mummy. They’ve played America’s favorite pastime, arguing about who is really on first. Complete opposites, yin and yang. A short, pudgy and many times, whiny Italian named Lou Costello and the tall, slender ornery Budd Abbott. They fought like bitter enemies, but bonded like brothers with chemistry some say is unsurpassed in movie history.


3. Bert and Ernie

This list would not be complete without a nod to Jim Henson’s popular puppet duo (this is a KQED blog, after all). They also have the most speculated upon relationship of the bunch. They sleep in the same bedroom and don’t have female puppet companions. Are they or aren’t they? Regardless, other than rubber ducky, Ernie’s main man has always been Bert. They bicker and squabble, but always remain true to each other.

4. Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan

Who’d have thought a comedian and martial arts legend could pair up as cops, make a few bad jokes, and still be successful? Audiences were able to get past the racist one-liners about rice-a-roni and bad English in Rush Hour to bring the movie to a $141 million worldwide gross. Guess that explains the two sequels.

5. Arnold Schwazeneger and Danny Devito

The Terminator and the short, Italian small-time crook. In Twins, the two are related. While no match made in heaven, they had enough charm and comic timing to star in one of the biggest hits of 1988, helping make over $200 million worldwide on a $15 million budget. Rumors of a sequel adding Eddie Murphy as the third brother have been swirling for a while now.