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Odd Ones Out – Exposed's Guide to Movie Pairings

Inspired by the likes of the recent Treacle Jr and the excellent The Guard, we thought it’d be nice to take a look at some classic ‘odd couple’ movies. You know the sort, where the wild one teams up with the sedate one, or the badass one gets saddled with the wimpy one, or where the lame stuffed cowboy toy teams up with the awesome space dude with flight pack.
 
There are literally so many of these movies it’s tough to narrow them down to a select few. So, we didn’t. Sure, there are plenty of obvious choices, such as the archetypal Midnight Cowboy, the beguiling Harold and Maude, and surely no rundown of odd couple movies would be complete without mention being made of Neil Simon’s original The Odd Couple. Eschewing all of the above, we’ve decided to give shout-outs to those movies that, whilst they may not necessarily spring to mind should you be asked to name them in a pub quiz, remain some of the finest examples of this beloved sub-genre (is it a sub-genre?)…
 
Kicking off proceedings, we have John Hughes’ splendid Planes, Trains and Automobiles
 

 
Here we find Steve Martin’s straight-laced, highly strung advertising exec trying to get home to his family in time for Thanksgiving. As it tends to do, fate then throws him a curveball and he soon finds himself sharing all manner of experiences with the mighty John Candy’s brash, accident-prone shower curtain ring salesman. Hilarity ensued.
 
In the shamefully overlooked Dragnet,both a parody and homage to the procedural cop show of the 50’s, the anachronistic Joe Friday gets teamed up, against his will, with the streetwise and awesomely-named Pep Streebeck.
 

 
Yes, Dan Aykroyd and a pre-Oscar Tom Hanks get saddled with each other to investigate some pagan cult or other who are up to no good. It hardly matters what they’re doing, as the chalk and cheese-like nature of this pair’s relationship is what makes the film so eminently watchable. Forget Hanks’ seriousness post-’93. Check him out when he was likeable!

Oh, and as if we’d forget Red Heat, in which Walter Hill teams James Belushi’s tough Chi-town cop with only bloody Arnold Schwarzenegger’s angry Russian narc.
 

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Well, Arnie’s Austrian accent sounds the same as Russian, doesn’t it? Suspension of disbelief is on the cards here, dear viewer, and once successfully suspended, you’re in for a treat. Bear in mind that this one of the first US films allowed to shoot in Russia, and relations between the two nations were still tender at the time, so this movie had every chance of being an epic failure. As it stands, it wasn’t. Thanks, glasnost!
 
Moving on into the nineties, we now get the likes of Judge Dredd.
 

 
Now, some might balk at this making the rundown, but watch the film. Stallone’s Dredd gets framed for the murder and gets sent down. En route to the prison he get to sit next to the incredibly annoying Fergie (played by the equally annoying Rob Schneider), an ex-con sent back down due to Dredd’s overzealous lawgiving. Events unfold and the strict lawman must team up with this wisecracking div to get back to town to clear his name. Dredd fans hate it. We don’t.
 
Rounding things off, we have the impeccable Die Hard With A Vengeance, in which our favourite hungover cop, John McClane gets back to work sporting questionable sandwich boards and dealing with some tricky maths. 
 

 
Also along for the ride is Samuel L Jackson’s Zeus, an electrical store owner who only got embroiled in the whole affair after trying to save McClane from some angry youths. Cue a crosstown caper involving Jeremy Irons’ dubious accent, some awesome set-pieces, and proof that McClane’s one of the baddest-ass movie cops around.
 
There’s probably a load more to be said for odd couple movies, but we simply don’t have the time, nor the inclination to do that here. This isn’t Sight and Sound, after all. So without further ado, click the links, rent the flicks, and get involved.
 
Honourable mentions must also go to Lethal Weapon, The Rookie, Midnight Run and Rush Hour.
 
Words by James McVeigh




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