Saturday, June 11, 2011

Speak Friend and Enter: A Tribute to Friendship on the Big Screen

When my good friend, Courtney Small, asked if I’d like to be a contributing writer on his blog, I felt honoured. We’ve been friends since university where, out of a mutual love of the arts, our conversations and debates about literature, pop culture and film began.

While we can usually agree on what to films to see, we don’t always agree on what films are good films. We’ll argue the merits of the plot and the character development, debate whether a film deserves the critical acclaim it receives, or pan it. Whatever our opinions, whether in sync or not, one thing holds true: there’s no one I’d rather talk film with than Courtney, and no one whose input I value more about film than his (Children of Men, aside.)

And so in honour of great friends, here’s a look at some friendships portrayed in film.

Shawshank Redemption

It is the fascinating story of a friendship forged in prison. Two men bond over several years of imprisonment and are eventually reunited on a beach after a successful prison escape and the granting of parole.

Thelma and Louise

Two women bond over murder, armed robbery and suicide. With hands clasped, they decide to “keep going” rather than being caught by police and drive their car over a cliff.


It’s a heartwarming tale about a lonely ten-year-old boy who befriends an alien. The scene where E.T. points his glowing finger at Eliot’s heart and says “I’ll be right here” is one of the most touching moments in film history.

Dumb and Dumber

Two moronic roommates and buddies wreck havoc while on a cross-country trek. Their utter obliviousness and simplemindedness cause a series of oddball mishaps to ensue.

The Odd Couple

There’s no friend like a friend who prevents you from killing yourself. The film is a tale of two friends, Oscar and Felix, whose living habits are as different as night and day, a fact they realize after Oscar invites Felix to move in with him after Felix’s marriage breaks up.


This film tells the story of two women from entirely different worlds who meet as young girls and forge a friendship into adulthood through the letters they write to each other. A mutual love for the same man, jealousy and terminal illness are just some of the ways their friendship ebbs and flows through a lifetime.

Stand by Me

It is the story of four friends who go in search of the missing body of a local teen and the personal demons they face along the way.

Steel Magnolias

Four Southern women connect regularly at a local beauty parlour and prove how love and loss can strengthen the bonds of friendship and how laughter can brighten even the darkest of times.

When Harry Met Sally

It’s the film that posited that men and women can’t be friends while telling the story of a man, Harry, and a woman, Sally, and the strong friendship that blossoms between them. They cross paths repeatedly over several years, finally crossing that line between friends and lovers.


The story of two friends, one cool; one not so cool, and how the former helps the latter snap out of a break-up funk by getting him back out into the social scene and dating again.


It’s the tale of two best friends wanting to end their high school years with a bang. Considered uncool and usually shunned by the popular kids, they unexpectedly snag an invite to the party of the year and spend hours before the party trying to procure enough alcohol to inebriate two girls in the hopes of getting lucky.

Forrest Gump

The film follows the title character, Forrest Gump, through several extraordinary decades in which Forrest fights in Vietnam and is awarded the Medal of Honor, strikes it rich as a shrimp boat captain, becomes a ping pong champion, meets several historical figures, including John Lennon and President Nixon, and runs across the US several times. The most poignant moments in the film aren’t necessarily Forrest’s remarkable personal achievements and his influence on pop culture phenomena, but the personal relationships he forges with Bubba, his war buddy, Lieutenant Dan, his platoon captain, and the love of his life, Jenny.

City Slickers

In an effort to help their pal, Mitch, stave off a mid-life crisis, Ed and Phil take him on a cattle drive for his birthday where, through herding cattle, they discover a renewed sense of self and purpose, and a fresh outlook on life.

Scent of a Woman

Frank Slade, an acerbic blind man who intends to kill himself, hires Charlie, a young prep school student facing expulsion, to serve as his caretaker over Thanksgiving weekend. The two mismatched men wind up helping each other in significant ways - Frank passionately defends Charlie at his school’s disciplinary committee, where afterwards Charlie is pardoned, and Frank decides not to take his own life.

Which films about friendship do you have a fondness for? Let us know in the comments section.


  1. Buzz and Woody from the Toy Story series would be my pick.

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  3. What a lovely post.

    "Shawshank" trumps all films when it comes to friendship ...

    Thought what about Elwood P. Dowd and Harvey in "Harvey"?

  4. @Duke - Never got around to watching Harvey. I remember some of my roommates in university rented it one night but I had an essay to work on so I missed out.

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  6. Thanks, Duke. I'm so glad you liked the piece. I've also never seen Harvey, but I've added to my list of films to see.

  7. Great selection of friendship movies - I would add Wizard of Oz, Fried Green Tomatoes, My Best Friend's Wedding and most recently, The Bridesmaids.

  8. I always enjoy seeing a good friendship unfold on-screen.
    One of my favourites would be The Seven Samurai, a pretty obvious choice i suppose, but I loved the way the members of the band grew closer over the course of the film.
    However, Westerns are often good for portrayals of friendship, one that comes to mind is the recent Open Range for example...

    Anyway, great post. I look forward to reading more of your writings!

  9. Those are great friendship flicks. Thanks for the great feedback, everyone.

    And thanks for the kind words, Jack L!

  10. Stand By Me was one of those great movies when I was growing up and is perhaps the better half's favorite film, because it's a great example of how innocent and wonderful childhood friendship can be, even if people drift apart in later life.

  11. @Darren - Stand By Me is one of those ageless films that speaks to every generation. It has held up extremely well over the years.

  12. Great list! Interesting that "Stand by Me" and "Shawshank" are both Stephen King stories. Even though he's known for his horror, he has a way of getting at the essence of friendship.

  13. Anonymous2:06 pm

    Lord of the Rings
    Any Simon Pegg/Nick Frost film

  14. Great Selection. Shawshank Redemption & Forrest Gump are my all time favs. Well though Band Of Brothers & The Pacific were mini series they still had lot about brotherhood & friendship.


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