Hollywood loved its comedy double acts in the 1980s. Name one star and the other rolls off the tongue: Dan Aykoryd… & John Belushi, Richard Pryor… & Gene Wilder. Here are our faves.
The 1980s produced some great comedy buddy flicks and as such created a number of memorable double acts. Leading men and women teamed up to share the limelight, ultimately releasing some of the decade’s best comedies.
The world’s biggest stars collaborated for feature film projects that defined careers – think Steve Martin and John Candy in Planes, Trains and Automobiles, or Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi in The Blues Brothers.
There was culture clash (Danny Glover and Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon), there was husband and wife teams (Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn in Overboard), and there were great actors going outside their comfort zone (Robert De Niro in Midnight Run).
Ultimately, these comedy twosomes produced some of the 1980s best films. Here’s some of my favourites…
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10. Kurt Russell & Goldie Hawn (Overboard, 1987)
See also: “Make Me Happy” Films – 80′s Edition
Real life couple Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn bring this fun comedy alive. When handyman Russell is left unpaid after doing some work for rich heiress Hawn, he takes advantage of her sudden amnesia to bring her into his home to do the chores and look after his kids.
9. Shelley Long & Bette Midler (Outrageous Fortune, 1987)
See also: Top 10 Female Buddy Films
Shelley Long, her performances in film during the 1980s seemingly (and unfairly) forgotten, teams up with Bette Midler to play a pair of actresses baying for the blood of the man secretly sleeping with them both. Cross-country antics ensue with layers of international intrigue and undercover shenanigans.
8. Tom Hanks & Shelley Long (The Money Pit, 1986)
See also: Top 10 Tom Hanks Films in the 1980s
There were some amusing husband and wife comedies in the 1980s but few were as enjoyable and entertaining as the Tom Hanks-Shelley Long partnership. In The Money Pit they find they have sunk every last penny they had into the house from hell, their relationship hanging by a thread as the walls literally fall down around them.
7. Danny Glover & Mel Gibson (Lethal Weapon, 1987)
See also: Top 10 Action Heroes of the 1980s
As far as buddy-cop partnerships go, there are few better than Danny Glover and Mel Gibson’s good-cop-bad-cop routine.
6. Richard E Grant & Paul McGann (Withnail and I, 1987)
See also: Top 10 Male Adventures in Self Discovery
It’s ironic teetotaller Richard E Grant should so convincingly inhabit the boots of one of cinema’s greatest drunks. In Withnail and I, two struggling actors from London head off for a much needed holiday in the Lake District. However, almost nothing goes to plan and soon Withnail’s eccentric uncle has joined them for some fun in the countryside.
5. Steve Martin & Michael Caine (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, 1988)
See also: Top 10 Steve Martin Films
Steve Martin and Michael Caine are perfect as scheming con men who unscrupulously steal money from rich women who fall for their elaborate deceptions. Unable to work the same affluent patch on the French Riviera, the two go head to head to see who can swindle the most money from their chosen target.
4. Richard Pryor & Gene Wilder (Stir Crazy, 1980)
See also: Top 10 Buddy Films since 1980
Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder appeared in four films together but few would argue against this being the best of the lot. These pair of unlucky friends end up serving time for a bank robbery they didn’t commit, eventually concocting an elaborate scheme to escape.
3. Robert De Niro & Charles Grodin (Midnight Run, 1988)
See also: Top 10 Robert De Niro Films
Robert De Niro plays it for laughs in Beverly Hills Cop director Martin Brest’s brilliant Midnight Run. De Niro is the bounty hunter who has to take embezzling accountant Charles Grodin across country. The juxtaposition of De Niro’s toughened mercenary alongside Grodin’s wise-cracks and book-smarts makes for a perfect comedy double act.
2. Dan Aykroyd & John Belushi (The Blues Brothers, 1980)
See also: Top 10 John Landis Films
Originally created as a musical sketch for Saturday Night Live, John Landis directs as Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi bring their perfect comedy creation to the big screen. A seminal film from the 1980s, The Blues Brothers, about the bumbling exploits of two brothers who attempt to reunite their rhythm and blues band in order to make money to save the Catholic orphanage that raised them, is about as good as 1980’s comedy gets.
1. Steve Martin & John Candy (Planes, Trains and Automobiles, 1987)
See also: Top 10 Road Trip Comedy Films
Steve Martin and John Candy are the actors who give us the best comedy “double act” of the 1980s. In John Hughes’ heartwarming comedy-drama Planes, Trains and Automobiles, the pair make us laugh, make us cry, make us feel all the joys of life along their journey that begins with a chance meeting and ends with the promise of lifelong friendship.
More Top 10s you might like: Top 10 Female Buddy Films | Top 10 Tom Hanks Films of the 1980s | Top 10 1980s Films That Need A Sequel | “Make Me Happy” – 1980’s Pick-Me-Up Films | Neal Damiano’s Top 10 Quintessential 1980s Films
Written and compiled by Dan Stephens.
Your turn – what are your favourite double acts of the 1980s?
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