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The Best Onscreen Friendships

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July 30 is the UN-recognised International Day of Friendship, so what better time to reflect on some of the best friendships from our screens? Whether beautiful, truthful, hilarious or heart-warming, these are my picks of the best character combos from my most beloved films and TV shows.

THE LORD OF THE RINGS TRILOGY

Sam and Frodo

Is there a more loyal sidekick in the world (real or fictional) than Samwise Gamgee? Short answer: no. Risking his life for Frodo a million times over, never losing sight of their goal even when Frodo does, saving Frodo’s ass (and the ring) when needs must, loyally coming back for him even after he’d cruelly cast away, physically carrying Frodo up a friggen’ mountain to complete their mission, and choosing not to mention Frodo’s wild failure at the moment of truth. If that isn’t true friendship, I don’t know what is.

Their best moment: During a quiet spell in their journey in the second film, Sam wonders aloud, “I wonder if we’ll ever be put into songs or tales… if people will ever say, ‘Let’s hear about Frodo and the Ring.’” And Frodo at last acknowledges Sam’s value (about the only time in the trilogy he or anyone else does, much to my annoyance). He says, ‘you’ve left out one of the chief characters – Samwise the Brave. I want to hear more about Sam. Frodo wouldn’t have got far without Sam.” Amen to that.

SEX AND THE CITY

Miranda and Carrie

Sure, Sex and the City is about a quartet of fierce female friends, but within this there are two whose bond is undeniably a force to be reckoned with. From the first episode in 1998 to the films which have kept the franchise going (just a tad too long), Carrie and Miranda have shared many a beautiful moment, usually all too relatable to audiences of the beloved show.

Their best moment: In the first of the two films (a.k.a. the one that’s not horrible) there is a scene which perfectly encapsulates what friendship truly means, and I have not watched it yet without getting teary. In which Carrie braves freezing temperatures, New Year’s crowds and subway mayhem in the middle of the night to be there when Miranda truly needs her, but isn’t able to ask. Sob.

50/50

Adam and Kyle

This is a film that kind of flew under the radar – it wasn’t huge when it came out and very few of my friends have seen it, but it’s one of my favourites. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Adam is given a 50% chance of survival when he is diagnosed with an aggressive form of unpronounceable cancer and his life is turned upside down. Through it all, his best mate Kyle (Seth Rogen) is by his side, taking the news in his stride, never changing the way he treats Adam or their friendship, and being there when it truly matters, including the unavoidable head-shaving, and the burning of a horrible ex’s possessions.

Their best moment: Kyle is so unfaltering, Adam even questions whether he really cares at one point, given he’s the only person who doesn’t change and intensify in the way they interact with him following his diagnosis. In one scene after Adam has taken a drunken Kyle home, he finds a book in his bathroom called ‘Facing Cancer Together’ with every second page folded over or scrawled across with notes. It’s one of the sweetest moments in modern cinema.

TOY STORY FILMS

Andy and Woody

There’s not a soul in this world that watched the story of Andy and his toy cowboy Woody, and didn’t think of that special toy which meant the world to them at one point. We’ve all had at least one; a toy that we would spend hours playing make-believe with, that we would keep at our bedsides or under our covers as we slept and that we would secretly believe came alive at night… so in a way, Andy is all of us. There is a time in life when no friend is more important to you than that one special toy. After all, the franchise theme song is called ‘You Got a Friend in Me’ for a good reason.

Their best moment: I have managed yet to hold back a tear when watching the final scene from the third Toy Story movie. As Andy leaves home to embark on his University life, he hands over all his toys to a child who will give them a new lease on life. In the box he sees – to his dismay – that Woody is in there, rather than in his car with the other items important enough to take with him to his new life. Deciding to keep the toys altogether and hand Woody over to a new child, he has one last play with his old partner, and it’s emotional as hell.

THELMA AND LOUISE

Thelma and Louise

The ultimate film about female empowerment, Thelma and Louise are two women who embark on a weekend getaway to escape their monotonous small-town lives in order for a little adventure. They soon get more than they bargained for, as an unfortunate encounter turns into a run from the law which spirals wildly out of control. From the first scene to the last, the two women transform drastically, so much so they are barely recognisable by their final frame, but they have only done so by being together, and being there for each other through it all.

Their best moment: SPOILER ALERT! The final scene of this masterpiece is considered one of the best endings in film history, and I can’t help but agree. As the women enjoy the majesty of the Grand Canyon while on the road, the law finally catches up with them. Cornered and with no way out, they choose to ‘keep going’ rather than surrender. The emotion as they understand what this means, the kiss, the gripping of each other’s hand, the slow-motion dust flying… it’s a phenomenal scene.

SCRUBS

JD and Turk

I miss this show immensely… it was that show that I looked forward to every week, and I enjoyed nothing more than sitting down to watch a new episode as it started. I still watch clips frequently when I have some down time. Perhaps the best part of it was the beautiful bromance between protagonist and his ‘big brown bear’ Turk. It is the ultimate friendship, ‘nuff said.

Their best moment: There are truly too many to chose from, so I’m just going to pick one at random because honestly, they’re all as good as the next. In the lead-up to Turk’s marriage, he asks JD to best his Best Man. As the two embrace, they’re asked if this is the best moment of their friendship, at which point they both drift off into a memory of what was the best moment, and hilarity of course ensues. LOVE these two.

STAND BY ME

Chris and Gordie

For the master of horror novels, Stephen King sure knows how to write a story that tugs on the heartstrings. The 1986 film adaptation of the classic coming-of-age tale Stand by Me is a beautiful representation of male adolescence, and is one of those films that somehow manage to evoke a sense of nostalgia for a time and lifestyle audiences often never experienced themselves. The relationship between Gordie and Chris as they and two friends embark on an adventure is one of innocence, loyalty, and captures the period of extreme closeness that two boys can share just before they get old enough to let society convince them that boys should only be so close.

Their best moment: There are two moments in the film when both Gordie and Chris break down and the other is there to support them, but my favourite Gordie’s. As her finally confronts his grief over the recent death of his big brother, and the resulting rift created between him and his father, Gordie’s anguish overwhelms him. Many friendships chart similar territory – the bad moments, when the grief is one is something a friend cannot relate to or do anything to relieve. Chris’s reaction and support by simply being there for Gordie and allowing him to cry and acknowledging his struggle without trying to get him over it is true friendship.

What are your favourite moments of onscreen friendship?

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