Top 10 Films Of Vince Vaughn

Neal Damiano charts the successes of Hollywood actor Vince Vaughn whose career has been populated by confident, self-assured best buddy-type characters.

10. Four Christmases (Gordon, 2008)

Top 10 Films of Vince VaughnInstead of one Christmas, Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon experience four. Our Top 10 Films of Vince Vaughn begins with this offbeat comedy about a couple come up with an elaborate plan to lie and tell their divorced parents they’re on retreat volunteering for humanity. A thick fog cancels their traveling plans and they’re forced to spend the holiday with both sets of divorced parents. Lots of comedy ensues as the two try to warm up to their parents. Vince Vaughn carries the film very well with his witty sarcasm but surprisingly Witherspoon is quite funny too. Of course Vaughn has that rare talent, where he bounces off his co-star’s charisma so good.

9. Dodgeball (Thurber, 2004)

Top 10 Films of Vince VaughnOne of the funniest spoofs in the last ten years. Vince Vaughn plays a jaded owner of a rundown gym soon to be in foreclosure. He has 30 days to come up with $50,000. What does he do, assemble a team of Average Joes to enter a tournament. Standing in his way is his nemesis, an egotistical fitness freak played by Ben Stiller who is looking to put Vaughn out of business. What makes Dodgeball absolutely hilarious is that it’s continuously funny all the way through. Due mostly to Vaughn and Stiller’s rivalry performance because it’s so outlandish and over the top you just have to laugh.

8. Return To Paradise (Ruben, 1998)

Top 10 Films of Vince VaughnOne of Vaughn’s more intense performances Return To Paradise deals with some serious and deep issues. Intense drama centers around American’s Joaquin Phoenix, David Conrad and Vince Vaughn, who embark on a wild vacation in Malaysia. Two years later, lawyer Anne Heche informs Vaughn and Conrad that Phoenix will be hanged on drug charges if they do not return to the country. Vaughn starts off his easy-go-lucky funny self but soon turns dark when his back is against the wall. It definitely tests his acting skill here and he succeeds.

7. The Locusts (Kelley, 1997)

Top 10 Films of Vince VaughnVince Vaughn plays a drifter who comes into a quiet town and gets involved with two local women played by Kate Capshaw and Ashley Judd. The Locusts is a really great steamy drama due to the chemistry between Vaughn, Capshaw and Judd. Inundated with forbidden passion and jealous obsession, the relationships lead to dangerous consequences.

6. A Cool, Dry Place (Smith, 1998)

Top 10 Films of Vince VaughnThis domestic drama features Vince Vaughn as a lawyer whose life unravels when he loses his job and his wife leaves him and their son. Hoping to start a new life Vaughn moves to Kansas and falls for a free spirit played by Joey Lauren Adams. He has to make tough decisions when his wife comes back into the picture. I feel this film really stretched out his acting ability because in most of his films there’s a comedic element he can work with, here it’s pure drama in which he leads the way.

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5. Old School (Phillips, 2003)

Top 10 Films of Vince VaughnOne of the funniest films of the 2000s Vince Vaughn and Will Farrell set the bar for hilarity with an extreme Peter Pan complex. Both struggle to move past the glory days of school and remain in arrested development. They decide to go back to college and start a fraternity. Will Farrell and Vince Vaughn have a childlike quality to them anyway, so to put them in a film like this is pure icing on the cake. Add in Luke Wilson and Jeremy Piven and you got yourself a party. They try desperately to do their Alma Mater proud but soon realize you can’t look back in life. You have to keep moving ahead.

4. Made (Favreau, 2001)

Top 10 Films of Vince VaughnVince Vaughn returns with his sidekick John Favreau to make one of the funniest comedies in the last fifteen years. Favreau and Vaughan together have this uncanny ability to make absurd and dangerous moments really funny. Vaughan plays the obnoxious friend role very well and it’s never more evident here. He relentlessly rattles and misguides Favreau through the entire film leading him into treacherous situations and then having to talk both their ways out of it. Again, Vaughn has that rich talent to make one keep coming back to rescue him. Vaughn’s annoying and paranoid ways is what makes this film so great.

3. Wedding Crashers (Dobkin, 2005)

Top 10 Films of Vince VaughnLike I have said many times you can pair Vince Vaughn up with anyone and it’s guaranteed laughs. Vaughn and Wilson play a couple of charming con men just looking to score with desperate women. Many quotable lines from both Wilson and Vaughn, but what makes Wedding Crashers so funny is the many over the top and raunchy scenes due to Vaughn’s comedic talent and timing. Like often Vaughn playing a character you want so bad to hate, but he’s so funny you can’t help liking him.

2. Swingers (Liman, 1996)

Top 10 Films of Vince VaughnThis is my second favorite Doug Liman film because of the teaming of John Favreau and Vince Vaughn. Favreau wrote an incredibly entertaining script, in my opinion Swingers is the most entertaining independent film to come out in the 90s. Vaughn is on full force as the obnoxious friend leading his best friend into all sorts of wild and sticky situations. We all know the incredibly catchy and funny quatable lines from Vaughn here but his ability to be a complete idiot but still be there for his friend is convincing enough to fall for his charm. From the opening scene to the ending, Vaughn is on and engaging us every frame totally contrasting with his depressed friend. But somehow they balance each other out taking us on an absolute hilarious ride through the Los Angeles bar scene. The great thing about Swingers is you find yourself actually really caring about these characters, to me that makes a great film.

1. Clay Pigeons (Dobkin, 1998)

Top 10 Films of Vince VaughnI have to put Clay Pigeons at number one for the pure simple fact that it displays Vince Vaughn’s acting ability like no other film. He stands alone in an extremely dramatic role and completely hits it dead on. Vaughn is both engaging and charismatic taking us on a thrill ride into his world. He often plays comedic roles posing no serious danger or threat. In Clay Pigeons he is completely transformed into a very dangerous, creepy sociopath and quite convincing. A very good script and acting from the entire cast, but Vaughn clearly shines bright as this offbeat slick cowboy. What makes Vaughn’s acting performance so great here, is his ability to play a sleazy, unpredictable character and somehow remain extremely likable. Vaughn’s charisma is so enthralling in Clay Pigeons making it such a fascinating film from beginning to end.

Written and Compiled by Neal Damiano

Tell us: what are your top 10 films of Vince Vaughn?

Check out some more great top 10s by Neal Damiano:
Top 10 New York Films
Top 10 Films of John Cusack
Top 10 Films of Ewan McGregor
Top 10 Films of Nicolas Cage

About the Author
Neal Damiano calls himself “an unhip film geek” who mixes his passion for movies with an enthusiasm for travel, music and journalism.

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  1. Callum Reply

    Don’t like his brand of comedy. He comes across as arrogant. That said, there’s plenty of older/dramatic roles I need to catch up on by the looks of things.

  2. Rory Fish Reply

    Tend to agree with Callum here. His best stuff is with Favreau or on the independent scene before he became a bankable star. Nowadays he’s too concerned with bottom denominator comedy to gain much respect from me. I can’t blame him for chasing the paycheck but his best days are behind him.

    • Callum Reply

      Swingers was excellent back in the early days of his career.

      • Rory Fish Reply

        …and Made.

        But aside from Dodgeball – which was amusing – I haven’t liked a film he’s made since 2001.

        1996 to 1998 was the sweet-spot of his career when he made Swingers, Cool Dry Place, Return To Paradise, Clay Pigeons, The Locusts and Jurassic Park The Lost World.

        It’s a shame actually that most will look at the name of this list and think how can Fred Claus, Couples Retreat, The Watch et al be worthy of a top 10 list. Well, they’re not, and there’s plenty of Vaughn’s career worthy of seeing.

        He needs to go back to his roots. Back to the independent scene. But how do you turn down the big-money salary in favour of the low budget, marginal box office appeal release?

  3. CineGirl Reply

    I enjoyed Four Christmases and Dodgeball but not much else recently. Couples Retreat was better than expected though.

  4. Neal Damiano Reply

    That is why I made the list. I agree his early stuff is fantastic and he is a good actor when given the right script. He shines with charisma in the right role. Put aside his personal views and Hollywwod life and you find a charismatic actor. He has done some really great films! It is a shame he’s taken some less than great unchallenging roles over the past few years. Hopefully he’ll return to the indie circuit again,.

  5. Jake Lewington Reply

    Great to see Clay Pigeons get the credit it deserves. Good list.

  6. massimo Reply

    Liked him in Swingers and Clay Pigeons. Made was good. I think I’ll check out locusts and cool dry place, cheers.

  7. ArchE Reply

    I can’t say I’ve followed his work in great detail in the last few years but I do remember chuckling along to Four Christmases with my daughters a few years back. Swingers is a film I’ve seen and enjoyed immensely but there are a few of Vaughn’s earlier works that I have yet to see.

  8. Rodney Reply

    Dodgeball is about the only film of his I can sit through without wanting to punch the screen. I hate this f@cker for having a career like he has, while people with vastly more talent languish in crap across the industry.

    • Dan Reply

      Harsh Rodney! 🙂

      I think he has an arrogance that comes through his characters and many find that off-putting. Me included. I have to say, the last film I saw Vaughn in was The Internship which I hated with a passion. I wouldn’t put that film’s downfalls at the feet of Vaughn exclusively – the thing was horrid – but he played a significant part in my disliking of it.

      That said, Swingers and Made are terrific. I agree with Rory – his work on the independent scene was pretty good. But he’ll never go back to that now.

  9. Neal Damiano Reply

    Jeez, I was just trying to write something light hearted, LOL…. not such a heavy actor. I think people get influenced by the media. Actually, I know a few people who have met him and told me he was quite a nice and humble guy.
    His indie work is fantastic.

  10. Dan Grant Reply

    Well, I love Vaughn and so do people like Spielbeg. Saying he has no talent is just flat out wrong. There’s not many who can do what he does. Just because he has made some poor choices in recent years doesn’t take away from his ability. Swingers was successful for many reasons but one of them was Vaughn’s ability to completely own every scene he’s in.

    I’d have put Into the Wild in here as well. I liked his 10 minutes of screen time. I haven’t seen Clay Pigeons but if Neal has it at number one then it must be worth checking out.

  11. Neal Damiano Reply

    Thank you, Dan Grant
    I highly recommend “Clay Pigeons” to you.
    It’s quite a fascinating film and Vaughn puts on a phenomenal performance way out of his usual character!!

  12. Roger That Reply

    He’s an agreeable guy if you like his humour. I did like DodgeBall, thought it was very funny. Swingers is excellent.

    Thanks for the recommendation of Clay Pigeons, Neal. I watched it last night and thought, like you, it’s the best work Vaughn has done.

  13. Lindo Reply

    No one can say Dodgeball isn’t great! 🙂

    Perfect top 10 Neal!

  14. jackdeth72 Reply

    Nice work, Neal:

    Vince Vaughn was very good opposite Ed Harris and Julia Ormand in the Boiler Room scam, ‘The Prime Gig’. Unless he’s with Jon Favreau. Vaughn isn’t that good a fit for what passes as recent comedies.

    Excellent catch on ‘Clay Pigeons’! Kind of reminded me of Joe Don Baker’s character, “Molly” in ‘Chatley Varrick’.

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