Look out Hollywood, Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) and his hapless big bro Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon) are back in a feature-length outing of Entourage alongside compadres Eric (Kevin Connolly) and Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) plus the shitstorm of potty-mouthed profanity that is Jeremy Piven’s mega-agent turned studio head Ari Gold.
The HBO comedic drama created by Doug Ellin followed the misadventures of movie star Vince, a homey from Queens transplanted to the West Coast along with his life-long buddies. It ran for eight glittering, celebrity cameo-laden series between 2004-2011.
Whether it was Vince landing the role of Aquaman then deciding to follow up the big bucks superhero game with a micro-budget art-house flick, or the various relationships loved, lost and/or put a ring on, much like Sex and the City, it all came back to the rock solid core of their mutual friendship.
The stakes have been stacked high, with Ari enlisting Vince to star if his fledgling studio’s first feature release. The latter insists he has the chops to direct it too, but Ari’s not so sure.
As Ellin takes the bros to the big screen, we scout around SBS On Demand for some of the best buddy movies on offer.
Set in working class Dublin, Alan Parker’s toe-tapping cracker The Commitments, based on the Roddy Doyle novel, stars a non-professional cast of singer and musicians bringing all-American soul to an unsuspecting Ireland.
Robert Arkins plays Jimmy Rabbitte, on a mission to form the ‘world’s hardest working band,’ that sees him automatically reject would-be band members who rock up at the door listing their influences as Led Zeppelin, Sinead O’Connor or, gasp, Barry Manilow.
Winning over his mates, there’s a joyous camaraderie amongst the band members that makes you think these guys really do hit the road (and the bar) together. Watch out for Andrew Strong’s outstanding vocal performance as Deco.
The Swimsuit Issue
When a typically boisterous bachelor party sees a bunch of blokes end up boozy in the pool, an unlikely passion for synchronised swimming is awoken, subsequently creating an internet sensation, in Swedish writer/director Måns Herngren’s The Swimsuit Issue.
Jonas Inde’s sacked journo Fredrik convinces his somewhat perplexed and more than a little wary mates to form Sweden’s first all-male team, hoping to make a perfectly timed splash at the world championships.
As gloriously silly as it sounds, channelling the likes of Blades of Glory and having a bit of fun with gender stereotypes along the way, there’s also a sweet undercurrent, particularly in Frederik’s troubled relationship with his actually accomplished synchronised swimming daughter Sara (Amanda Davin).
A Matter of Size
Sticking with similarly lightweight matter, four bulky mates from the Israeli city of Ramla decide to abandon their depressing diets in favour of taking up sumo wrestling in directors Sharon Maymon and Erez Tadmor’s A Matter of Size.
After getting fired from his hotel job because he’s not the right ‘look’, chef Herzl (Itzik Cohen) ends up working at a Japanese eatery and its here that he first hits on the idea that he and buddies Sami (Shmulik Cohen), Aharon (Dvir Benedek) and Gidi (Alon Dahan) could train to be sumo wrestlers under Togo Igawa’s restaurant owner Kitano.
Stuffed with visual gags and smart comic timing, there’s even a few surprisingly affecting subplots, including marital troubles and a coming out yarn too.
Taking its cue from the fail proof, feel-good high school comedy of Easy A and Mean Girls, Gary Entin’s debut feature Geography Club, adapted by his brother Edmund from Brent Hartinger’s novel, stars Pitch Perfect’s Cameron Deane Stewart as Russell, a closeted footy star who’s falling for the also secretly gay teammate Kevin (Justin Deeley).
When Ally Maki’s Min walks in on their first kiss, the boys freak out, but she invites them to join her secret LGBTI support group masquerading under the Geography Club moniker that lends its name to the movie’s title.
The assorted geeks and misfits demonstrate all of the hallmarks of the Molly Ringwald school of the 80s, including John Hughes’ The Breakfast Club, delivering the requisite warm and fuzzies as the guys and gals help each other to embrace their inner awesome.
Welcome to the Sticks
The French king of comedy Dany Boon wrote, directed and also stars in this Gallic box office slayer that sees Kad Merad’s post office manager Philippe banished from his sunny-climed, cushy southern city gig after attempting to fake a disability to score an even plummer job.
He’s exiled to a miserable post up north (Boon’s native country) where the rain seemingly never stops and the accents are funny, in what would appear to be a fate worse than death, hence his wife and kid staying behind.
Once re-settled, Philippe is at first put off by the strange ways of new employee Antoine (Boon), but they’re soon thick as thieves and the old north/south divide is shown up for the dumbness that it is.
Friendship crosses not only class boundaries, but ideological ones too in Chilean writer/director Andrés Wood’s Machuca, set during the lead up to the 1973 military coup.
Ariel Mateluna’s Pedro Machuca lives in Santiago’s slums, but thanks to the good will of Ernesto Malbran’s Father McEnroe, he’s invited to study for free at the private school attended by upper class Gonzalo Infante (Matias Quer).
Forming a fast friendship, the pair also hits on a canny marketing scheme, selling nationalist flags to one side of the rumbling political divide and Communist ones to the other.
Co-scripted by Roberto Brodsky and Mamoun Hassan, the coming of age friendship is as heart-warming as the crushing forces of political intransigence the pull them apart are depressing.
Men in the City & Men in the City 2
(2009 & 2011)
The English-language title for German writer/director Simon Verhoeven’s big-hearted comedy, Men in the City, very obviously plays on Carrie and Co’s Manhattan gang, but in truth when these six very different men first join the same gym, they’re complete strangers coping with life’s ups and downs more or less solo while the big picture explores what it means to be a man.
As the movie progresses, their stories begin to diverge and some of the guys even pop up in the also amusing sequel too.
We couldn’t let the blokes grab all the fun, hence the inclusion of director Bruce Beresford’s 80s nostalgia gem Puberty Blues, with a screenplay adapted by Margaret Kelly from the novel by Kathy Lette and Gabrielle Carey.
Set in The Shire - the one in Cronulla, not Hobbiton - it follows teenage tearaway besties Debbie (Nell Schofield) and Sue (Jad Capelja) as they desperately seek social acceptance via membership of the Greenhill Gang, mostly by fetching Chiko Rolls for bogan surfer dudes then shagging them on demand. “Isn’t he a spunk?”
Rebels without any particular cause, other than to not get branded a moll, there’s a wry honesty to this tale of teenage heat on the beach.
Girls Just Want To Have Fun
And while we’re on the subject of 80s high school girl gangs, how could we pass over the BFF hijinks of Girls Just Want To Have Fun starring a super-baby faced Sarah Jessica Parker as Janey, who just wants to dance like everyone’s watching her on TV with bestie Lyne (Helen Hunt), to the huge disapproval of her Army father.
Penned by Beverly Hills, 90210 and Melrose Place scribe Amy Spies and directed by Police Academy: Mission to Moscow’s Allan Metter, it’s pretty flimsy but pops its little socks during some smashing musical numbers. Look out for 90s queen bitch-to-be Shannen Doherty.