While you can find great buddy comedies in most decades, there are few ten-year periods in film better than the 1980s. Duos like Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito, Alex Winter, and Keanu Reeves, and Tom Hanks and French Mastiff named Hooch made the 80s an unstoppable force of buddy comedy.
For those unaware, a buddy comedy is exactly as the name would make it appear. Buddy comedies can straddle other genres as in the case of a police buddy comedy. The genre usually mixes comedy and adventure and features two (or more) characters (usually male) who are often opposite of each other or have very different lifestyles (although this isn’t always the case). The differences between the duo usually causes some arguments, chaos, and hilarity.
There’s a reason this recipe has been used to form the plot of so many movies. People love to see a pair of guys who likely have nothing in common and might not even like each other on some kind of adventure.
Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)
Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure is not only a buddy comedy, but also a time travel comedy. The story revolves around Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves), a pair of high school slackers who just want to play in their band called Wyld Stallyns. But if Ted fails history, his dad will send him to military school. This is when a time traveler named Rufus (played by George Carlin) shows up to bring them to different periods in time to meet (and bring back) the actual historical figures.
Turner & Hooch (1989)
While most buddy comedies feature a human duo, this one opts for one human and one canine. It’s still a buddy comedy because Detective Scott Turner (Tom Hanks) inherits a wild, aggressive junkyard dog when his friend is murdered. Not only does the pooch eventually slobber his way into his heart, but he helps him solve the murder.
Pep Streebeck (Tom Hanks) is a little lazy and doesn’t take himself too seriously and Joe Friday (Dan Aykroyd) is a little too disciplined and by the book. They’re both Los Angeles detectives who are paired together to investigate potential cult murders. They don’t get along much of the time but manage to put their differences aside to solve the strange case.
Coming to America (1988)
Coming to America isn’t your usual buddy comedy. That’s because the buddies involved are a man named Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy), royalty from an African country, and his manservant Semmi (Arsenio Hall). Unhappy with an arranged marriage, the pair travel to New York City in search of a bride who will eventually become queen. Hilarity and uncomfortable differences abound.
Weekend at Bernie’s (1989)
When Richard (Jonathan Silverman) and Larry (Andre McCarthy) get an invite to their boss Bernie’s house, they couldn’t be more excited. Little do they know that they unintentionally uncovered a fraud he committed, and he plans to have them murdered. When he dies instead, they decide (for some reason) to stay the weekend and pretend he’s still alive by parading his corpse around like a puppet.
Weird Science (1985)
A pair of teenage nerds named Gary (Anthony Michael Hall) and Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) use an advanced computer program to design their dream woman. An electrical surge somehow uses their program to create a woman named Lise (Kelly LeBrock). She immediately makes them cooler, helps them with bullies, and changes their lives forever. But all good things come to an end eventually, right?
The Blues Brothers (1980)
This musical comedy is centered on a recently released prison inmate named Jake (John Belushi) and his brother Elwood (Dan Aykroyd), also known as the Blues Brothers. They decide to repay Jake’s debt to society by raising money to save the orphanage where the brothers grew up. They take a musical road trip, playing gigs, and find it’s harder than they thought to “get the band back together.”
Julius (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Vincent (Danny DeVito) don’t seem like brothers let alone fraternal twins. They can thank a genetic experiment for their massive differences in size and appearance. Julius was raised by a scientist and Vincent is a street hustler. Neither knew they were a twin until Julius found out his mother was alive and traveled to Los Angeles to find them.
Midnight Run (1988)
Jack (Robert De Niro) is a bounty hunter hired to find a mob accountant named “The Duke” (Charles Grodin) and take him to Los Angeles. He’s told it would be an easy job, but of course, it isn’t because the mafia and US government are trying to get their hands on him. The pair need to take a madcap road trip across the country so Jack can get his bounty.
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987)
Potentially the best buddy comedy of all time, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles is the story of tightly wound Neal (Steve Martin) who just wants to get home to Chicago to spend Thanksgiving with his family. Snow reroutes his plan to Wichita and a fight gets him and an abrasive man named Del (John Candy) kicked off the flight. He ends up having to spend a night in a cheap hotel with the shower ring salesman which kicks off a crazy, hilarious road trip home for both.