Ever see a film and wish that you had seen it with a particular friend (instead of alone or the actual person you went to see it with) or ever see a film that afterwards brought a rush of memories about a past friendship, now severed or faded? The following films speak to the power and influence of friendships and what can be right and wrong about sticking it out with certain friends.
The titles are listed in chronological order. The ‘newest’ film is 15 years old, which is a good test for friendships, too — how one’s feelings have changed about a friend over time.
1. Breakfast Club (1985, John Hughes)
How boring would it be to have the same type of friends (Heathers, anyone)?
In this absolutely groundbreaking film, five unlikely friends transcend their rigid high school social cliques and spend a Saturday in detention under the watchful eye of a bitter principal.
Made over thirty years ago, the film’s different social types are neither dated nor cliched: the jock, the brain, the socialite, the freak, and the junkie. Star turns by Molly Ringwold, Judd Nelson, Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy, Anthony Michael Hall and of course, Paul Gleason as the principal. Throw in a great soundtrack, and you have a fun, entertaining film that is a fascinating inquiry into American high school social structures.
2. The Princess Bride (1987, Rob Reiner)
A crowd favorite, a film that is basically a rite of passage from kids films to grown-up films. Reiner has assembled the most amazing cast: Billy Crystal, Wallace Shawn, Carol Kane, Mandy Patinkin, Cary Elwes, Christopher Guest, and of course, Andre the Giant (RIP).
Based on the William Golding novel of the same name, this is all about the epic adventure undertaken by friends, each seeking their own personal justice. Across countries, wild seas, encountering strange monsters, the friends spur each other on. Akin to an assembled sports team of superstars, with Andre’s brawn, Wallace Shawn’s brains and Mandy’s swordsmanship, they overcome obstacles, stumble together, sing and drink and are merry, and even sort of die together.
3. Goodfellas (1990, Martin Scorese)
Of the many heist friendships on film, perhaps this trumps them all. The true story of mob informant Henry Hill, as told in the nonfiction classic Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi, and his incredible betrayal — part of the joy of watching this is having your sympathies spun around.
Family celebrations, having your back, but also meditative, violent, and pure theater. Who can forget the spaghetti sauce stirring scene, or Joe Pesci shooting a young Michael Imperioli aka Christopher Moltisanti in the foot, or any of the scenes with Ray Liotta’s and Lorraine Bracco’s crazy, intense marriage. Who do you root for when the nastiest, meanest friends are loyal to you and are on your side?
4. Point Break (1991, Kathryn Bigelow)
Surfer-cum-bank robber Patrick Swayze befriends undercover cop Keanu Reeves, and we embark on one of the coolest friendships ever depicted in movies. Does it matter that Keanu isn’t really acting or that the surfer/robber outfit is outlandish or the shootouts and the skydive fight scene are ridiculous? Tightly constructed, riveting, suspenseful, a film that deserves the cult following it has.
5. Reservoir Dogs (1992, Quentin Tarantino)
Before Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill, Tarantino crafted this bank robbery-gone-wrong masterpiece told out of order. What an incredible opening cafe scene with its dissertation on Madonna and the protocol for tipping waitresses.
This is about people who are not supposed to be friends (to protect their alias if nabbed by police) and go together through a horrendous experience that goes to the heart of relationships. Reliability, mistrust, overreaction, lies, simply, a situation which calls for close friends and calmer heads to prevail. Harvey Keitel, Steve Buscemi, Tim Roth and Michael Madsen are larger than life. Best line: “I mean everyone panics, it’s human nature, but you panic on the inside. What you don’t do is go around shooting people.”