Top 5… ‘Friends’ Movies

It’s David Schwimmer’s birthday today, and with the imminent release of the complete Friends boxset on Blu-Ray (available in the UK on November 12th), this seemed to be the perfect time to have a look through the filmographies of the six leads of that great show. That is, until I got severely depressed by just how bad most of the films they’d made were. So bad, in fact, that amongst six successful actors, I could barely find 20 films that I’d willingly sat down and watched. This was a tough list to find five good films from.5. Lost in Space
I’m fully aware that this is a terrible film, but it belongs on a list with the likes of Godzilla, Deep Blue Sea and The Day After Tomorrow as films that don’t really have a lot going for them other than being largely entertaining. Lost in Space features a fairly terrible performance from Matt LeBlanc as Major Don West, the captain of a spaceship transporting the Robinson family to a new colony in an attempt to begin the salvation of humanity, but of course problems arise, most notably a hoard of alien spiders that eat through the ship’s hull. Is there anything worth watching about the film? Yes. Gary Oldman is terrific as the evil Dr. Zachary Smith (and a slightly more spidery version later on). The rest of the Robinsons are OK too, particularly William Hurt as the father. And there’s a robot! Now, I’ve never seen the 60s TV show on which this is based, but I’m pretty sure that if they had implemented a weird sucker-fingered alien monkey, the CGI may have looked slightly better than in this film , made 30 years later.

4. Bruce Almighty
And we’re now onto films that I actually like, rather than just tolerate. Bruce Almighty is worthy of a place here not just for Jim Carrey’s stellar Clint Eastwood impersonation, but also for the unbeatable casting coup of Morgan Freeman as God. It’s the role he was more than born to play, as if God really were to exist, I’m pretty sure he/she/it’d sound a lot like Freeman. There’s a lot of pretty good scenes in the film, mostly involving Carrey’s Bruce Nolan dicking around with his newfound omnipotence (parting the red soup, butt-dwelling monkey), but unfortunately the film does kind of lose it’s track towards the end, as Bruce navigates a near-apocalypse his unremittent wish-granting has accidentally created. It’s a bit silly, but I feel it received more bashing, mainly from wrongly-offended Christians, than it truly deserved. The main problem is that it’s a blend of wacky-funny and romantic comedy, meaning that the two audience groups never really got exactly what they wanted, but fortunately I lay somewhere between the two. Jennifer Aniston doesn’t really have an awful lot to do, other than be worried or annoyed, and have multiple orgasms in a bathroom, most of which to be fair could have been done by pretty much any actress working in Hollywood, but the role wasn’t too important, so that’s fine.
3. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
Jim Carrey again, this time ravaging Courteney Cox rather than Jennifer Aniston, and plugging into full-on mental-clown mode. Ace Ventura is one of the most quotably insane characters Carrey has ever played (probably coming second to The Mask, just pipping Lloyd Christmas), and here he does not disappoint. I’ve just realised it’s been far too long since I last saw this film (and it’s not-quite-as-good-but-still-funny sequel, When Nature Calls), so I’m not going to write too much, as I’m going to go watch them instead. As with Bruce Almighty, the Friends’ star’s role wasn’t too key to the plot, basically just filling the place of love interest, and I seem to always forget Cox was even in the film, but she was, so the position stays.
2. Scream Quadrilogy
This was a close race to the top spot, with this series’ first instalment very nearly taking the place alone, but this would have meant splitting the films up and including part 2 on the list elsewhere, as it’s miles better than Lost In Space. However, this would have meant that the entire list comprised of films from only Courteney Cox and Jennifer Aniston, which I’m not going to stand for. So, Scream. The first film is one that I’ve raved about before, and probably remains my favourite slasher film, although there’s an awful lot that I haven’t seen (for example, any of the Halloween films past the first one, and the entire Friday the 13th saga). The second film expanded upon the meta-horror references, bringing in sequels into the mix, and very nearly surpassed the original. It went a bit awry in part 3, with not even the combination of Patrick Warburton, Carrie Fisher and Jay and Silent Bob being able to save it, and the less said about Scream 4 the better. Cox is actually pretty good here as opportunistic journalist Gale Weathers, and is even given quite a lot to do, which she does well. Whether say that she can play a grade-A bitch convincingly is a compliment or not is another thing.
1.Office Space
Not too much of a surprise here. Jennifer Aniston plays the lusted after waitress of the local restaurant frequented by Ron Livingston’s Peter Gibbons is Mike Judge’s darkly satirical office-based comedy. I think it works better if you currently work in, or have ever worked at, an office, and seeing as that’s almost entirely where I’ve worked, then this film greatly appeals to me. I’ve never had quite such an irritating a boss as Gary Cole’s Bill Lumbergh (I honestly believe he should have been Oscar-nominated for this role), but I’ve lived through most of the other situations Peter goes through, from performance reviews to having asinine conversations with colleagues about staplers. This is a pretty much perfect film, with great supporting work from the likes of John C. McGinley, Stephen Root and Orlando Jones, and features almost too many great moments for me to pick my favourite. Almost. It’s the bit with the photocopier, obviously.
Honourable mentions
Madagascar Series
Run Fatboy Run
The Whole Nine Yards
The Break-Up
3000 Miles to GracelandHaven’t Seen: There’s a lot of films by these actors that I haven’t seen, mainly because they look terrible. From reputation alone, I think these are the only at least half-decent films that I haven’t seen from their resumes:
The Iron Giant
Horrible Bosses
Easy A
Biloxi Blues

Worst: P.S. I Love You
Although I don’t really detest this film about a girl (Hilary Swank) whose boyfriend (Gerard Butler) dies, but leaves her little messages to help her get on with her life, I do have some issues with it. Partly that it always felt a bit creepy to me, but mainly that in comparison to Butler’s Gerry I am a truly terrible boyfriend, as I’m completely unable to book a holiday whilst not suffering from a fatal illness. Lisa Kudrow, as Swank’s sex-obsessed friend Denise, is probably the best part of the film, or at least the most entertaining, but she isn’t really in it enough to justify watching. There’s also too many things going on (if you’ve got Jeffrey Dean Morgan as an alternative love interest, why do you need Harry Connick Jr. too?), and far too much depressing insipidness for my liking. Plus, I’ve never been much of a Swank fan, and anything Gerard Butler does that doesn’t involve killing people or being a minor gangster just doesn’t interest me.

9 thoughts on “Top 5… ‘Friends’ Movies

  1. Office space would top ANY top 5 for me! I love that film too and saw (again again again) last week. We should start a campaign to give Gary Cole an honorary Oscar for legendary achievement. So, Peter, what's happening? Yeah… If you could just go ahead and…I know it is not a movie but for a Schwimmer feature "Band of Brothers" would do for me. And "Easy A" is a miss. That is a surprisingly good one.

  2. I hear good things about both films, but I've just not found the time to sit down and watch them. I'm surprised Iron Giant didn't appear on any of the lists I'm going through.

  3. I highly recommend both The Iron Giant and Easy A. Here are links to my reviews of them, if you are interested: for best performances, I think Aniston did her best acting in The Good Girl.By the way, Lost in Space does have one other thing going for it: it was the first movie to have a "bullet time" sequence (freezing and rotating the image) – a year before The Matrix did it and got given the credit for inventing it.

  4. I think I just dismissed The Good Girl based on it sounding like a typical Aniston rom-com, is it worth checking out? Iron Giant and Easy A are both on my 'to watch' list, but when I get around to seeing them I don't know.

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