Date: 3 Apr 2013 Comments:0
Continuing in the thread of human companionship, let’s talk about “bromances.” This oft-loved genre has its roots in the “buddy” films that often involve a hero and his friend or sidekick using their friendship to overcome all odds. Bromances in particular generally put a large amount of focus on both the strength and depth of the relationship, without putting it into a romantic context. While there is some debate as to what differentiates a bromance from a buddy film (or whether the genres are one and the same), both are staples in both comedy and action cinema, vital, vibrant, and nuanced.
Obviously, the standard we are judging by comes from the most famous examples of the Bromance: films like I Love You Man, Ted, and Superbad. But let’s take a closer look at the genre with a few more examples you may or may not have seen.
Simon Pegg films are a treasure trove of bromances, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz being the most famous examples. Many like how the writing acknowledges the absurdity of friends being forced to stick together against impossible odds. In Paul‘s case, it involves aliens and the CIA. Starring Simon Pegg , Seth Rogen, and Nick Frost, this buddy flick is crammed full of
nerdy pop-culture references like a starship full of Tribbles.(Eh? Eh?)
This film takes every bromance cliche (the road trip, the bros-before-hos
conundrum, the constant questioning by outsiders of their sexuality, etc.) and owns
each and every one in a surprisingly unique way. I think it’s because
of that staunch ownership that I’m always in the mood to watch Paul despite its over-the-top display . Though, to be fair, its razor sharp wit combined with foul-mouthed frankness make for constantly entertaining dialogue and it has some pretty good slapstick moments, so even if I didn’t catch the geeky references I’d be entertained.
Ultimately, Paul is easily one of the most solid examples of true bromance on this list,
and definitely worth watching. Be prepared to pause and rewind
frequently to see little background cameos and Easter eggs.
There’s no stronger bromance than one forged in the fires of hardship. Also, you know what sucks? Cancer. Cancer sucks. 50/50 is a film about two bros (played by Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt) coming to terms with the difficulties in their relationship when one is diagnosed with a rare form of spinal cancer. The neatest thing about this flick is watching the story unfold as each man comes to realize how much the other cares about him.
Of course, it’s still a comedy. Yes, it’s a touching story, but you’ll be laughing the whole time, except for about ten minutes toward the end, as such comedies go.
The Full Monty
This film is a classic bromance that has the added bonus of providing societal examination. In the mid-nineties, it was easy to see that the world had changed thanks to women entering the workforce in droves, and as equals (finally). The Full Monty was among the first films to display the plight of disempowered men, put out of work and unable to own their feelings of inferiority compared to the women in their lives. But the take on it is fairly lighthearted without seeming fake: what’s a guy to do when he’s down on his luck and needs some fast cash? Strip! It’s a guaranteed formula for both comedy and success.
However, unlike the oglefest provided by Magic Mike, this film highlights a group of average middle-aged British men, rather than slick, hairless pretty boys. The far more difficult circumstances they face compared to the professional, muscly type men mirrors the difficulties of disenfranchised blue-collar man in a white-collar world.
Plus, it’s a little strange looking back to an era in which a family of two could be supported on the income of one low-level management position that appears to be part time. Eerie.
21 Jump Street
In addition to being a typical, cerebral-chewing-gum type comedy, this film paints a clear picture of the man (in this case men) out of his depth: in one case, out of his depth socially, in another, out of his depth mentally, and both coming to terms with the changes in their identities necessary to performing their jobs.
Also, there’s some pretty gratuitous drug use and underage drinking. But we’ll ignore that for now.
21 Jump Street takes every opportunity to play up the idea that our society is changing–we no longer value the meathead jock over the quirky theater nerd, for the most part. (Some places have yet to adapt.) In the age of the attention span, coolness is less about physical prowess and more what a person provides–whether it’s social amusement, phat beats, a new life philosophy, or drugs–in this case, all of the above.
But it also takes the time to elaborate on what traits separate teenagers from adults: namely, the ability to both survive out of one’s depth and to look beyond superficial social labels to make valuable connections in their lives. In a world where one can delete and/or block anyone who disagrees with their views or lifestyle, these two men rose above social stigma and became friends anyway. In other words, they grew up. Makes your constant bickering about gun laws with your sister-in-law’s nephew seem kind of childish, doesn’t it?
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