Everyone knows Friends. It was a phenomenal success around the world; particularly in America and the UK. This top 10 looks at the best films made by the stars of the show…
Looking at the careers of the Friends stars after finishing the tenth and final series of the critically acclaimed and much-loved sitcom you can see who wanted to continue a career in television and who wanted fame on a bigger screen. Or perhaps I should rephrase: it highlights who could and who couldn’t turn their Friends stardom into box office appeal…
Certainly, Jennifer Aniston’s widely endorsed celebrity helped her establish a solid standing in theatres and she clearly pursued success on the big screen, while Matt LeBlanc, in comparison, steered his ship closer to television. The cinematic failings of Aniston’s co-stars, particularly the men, have perhaps seen them less voluntarily turn back to television with inconsistent results.
While Aniston has secured multi-million dollar contracts every year since leaving Friends (highlights being Horrible Bosses, Marley and Me, and Wanderlust), her co-stars have found the market for their talent more limited. However, on the small screen, most have continued to excel – Matthew Perry in Aaron Sorkin’s brilliant Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Courteney Cox in Dirt and currently in Cougar Town, and David Schwimmer playing the slimy Captain Sobel in Steven Spielberg/Tom Hanks-produced World War II drama Band of Brothers). Matt LeBlanc has also enjoyed success with the entertaining Episodes, which first aired in 2009, where he plays a fictional version of himself following a two-year struggle to gain an audience for Friends spin-off Joey between 2004 and 2006.
Yet, if prizes were given to the sexes, it would be the female cast members who take the gold medal for their work in the movies. While it is Aniston who continues to get top-billed roles year-on-year, Kudrow and Cox have made the more interesting films. Kudrow, for example, has sought smaller roles that push her acting skills, while turns in films such as Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion and Ps. I Love You, continue to delight. Cox, who enjoyed a film career prior to Friends (remember her in Cocoon The Return), has enjoyed, like some of the others, working behind the camera but her movie CV has plenty of highlights. 3000 Miles to Graceland and Ace Ventura Pet Detective showed she could play characters far removed from her Friends persona Monica Geller, while Scream, in which she plays obnoxious television journalist Gale Weathers, is the best film and best character featuring any of the Friends on-screen team.
Ultimately, the Friends stars’ legacy will always be their funny, warm-hearted and lovable sitcom that remains rewardingly re-watchable and infinitely entertaining. But the movies were always going to come calling, and whether it was during the show’s original run or after it, these actors have given us some wonderful cinematic experiences as well. Here are my favourites…
10. Horrible Bosses (featuring Jennifer Aniston)
I’d been waiting for Jennifer Aniston to play a character that wasn’t a version of her Friends persona Rachel Green for years. Finally, in Horrible Bosses, an enjoyable comedy about a group of friends who decide to murder their nasty managers. Aniston plays the sex-obsessed doctor Julia Harris, whose risqué and no-nonsense approach to man-management is the funniest thing she’s ever done.
9. Apt Pupil (featuring David Schwimmer)
This interesting thriller sees student Brad Renfro strike up an unlikely relationship with ex-Nazi war criminal Kurt Dussander (played by Ian McKellen). David Schwimmer is Renfro’s frustrated school counsellor Edward French.
8. Marley and Me (featuring Jennifer Aniston)
Aniston stars alongside Owen Wilson in this heartwarming tale about the life of Labrador Retriever Marley and his time with and influence upon the Grogan family. The film is based on the memoir by John Grogan.
7. The Whole Nine Yards (featuring Matthew Perry)
Matthew Perry plays a version of Chandler Bing in this riotous comedy that also features Bruce Willis, Amanda Peet, and Kevin Pollak. Perry is unhappily married dentist Nicholas “Oz” Oseransky whose life gets turned upside down when ex-mob member-turned-informant Jimmy “the Tulip” Tudeski moves in next door.
6. Ps. I Love You (featuring Lisa Kudrow)
Lisa Kudrow, playing it straight, is somewhat ordinary in a role that demands nothing more. This lovable romantic-comedy sees Hilary Swank’s widow pursue a journey of discovery after her husband (played by Gerard Butler) suddenly dies from a brain tumour. Its soft centre, gooey romance and touches of tragedy are the perfect blend for those wanting their boy-meets-girl stories to come pre-loaded with tissues to wipe away those happy-sad tears.
5. The Good Girl (featuring Jennifer Aniston)
Aniston goes outside her comfort zone in Miguel Arteta’s dark comedy about a bored married discount store clerk and her affair with Jake Gyllenhaal’s Holden Worther.
4. Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion (featuring Lisa Kudrow)
Lisa Kudrow is superb, as is co-star Mira Sorvino, as two ditzy friends in the late twenties who live life like teenagers without a care in the world. The lovable twosome, who grow increasingly frustrated by their lack of career and perfect boyfriend, decide to go to their ten-year high school reunion posing as successful businesswomen in order to impress their old school acquaintances.
3. Scream 2 (featuring Courteney Cox)
Scream 2 is arguably as good, if not better, than Scream. Cox returns as egotistical television reporter Gale Weathers as a copycat killer surfaces to begin terrorising the survivors of the Woodsboro massacre.
2. Office Space (featuring Jennifer Aniston)
Audience favourite Office Space satirises the working life of staff members at a software company. Aniston plays a waitress who shares Ron Livingston’s distaste for idiotic management and is similarly inspired to stand up to her boss.
1. Scream (featuring Courteney Cox)
Screenwriter Kevin Williamson’s re-imagination of the slasher genre is perfectly brought to life by seasoned horror film veteran Wes Craven. The film turns stalk and slash conventions of their head whilst simultaneously celebrating the movies that inspired its creation. Nods to slasher classics Halloween, Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street are all evident, as Woodsboro High School students come under attack from a knife-wielding killer who has a penchant for scary movies. You know you are witnessing something unique when the recognised star of the film – Drew Barrymore – finds herself a victim in the opening reel. From then on, all expectations are out the window. Courteney Cox delivers one of her finest performances as ego-ridden, single-minded television reporter Gale Weathers, who is far more interested in her own celebrity status than either her own safety or those around her.