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It seems so easy: Take a beloved older comedian, pair him or her with a hot young comedian, and let them go wild. Yet, inter-generational comedy pairings are hit-and-miss. For every classic pairing you see below, there are three or four instantly forgettable pairings.
This Friday, we’ll find out whether Jack Black and Steve Martin belong on this list or if the memory of their pairing will fly away faster than the birds they’re seeking out in David Frankel’s The Big Year. If it’s the latter, though, at least we have these 10 great comedic duos to remember and revisit.
10. Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan, Freaky Friday
I wouldn’t complain if we never saw another body-switching comedy again, and guessing from the box-office receipts of The Change-Up, I’m not the only one. Part of that is because the formula is so familiar and stale. But I also think part of the reason is because these two actresses just killed it in Freaky Friday.
9. Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson, Zombieland
These two aren’t exactly funny because of their difference in age (it’s more because Eisenberg’s dorkiness and Harrelson’s badass-ery make them an amazingly odd pair), but Eisenberg’s naivete and Harrelson’s world-weariness are the perfect combination to help each other get through cinema’s funniest zombie apocalypse ever.
8. Ed Asner and Jordan Nagai, Up
In addition to being one of Pixar’s most touching efforts, Up is also one of the studio’s funniest films. Part of the reason is that Russell’s eagerness and Carl’s crabbiness clash brilliantly.
7. Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, In Bruges
Take a city boy and drop him in the middle of Europe’s most boring metropolis with a real curmudgeon, and you’ve got the recipe for a really funny pairing. It helps, of course, when you’ve got such vulgar dialogue and genuinely good performances from two terrific actors.
6. Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd, Back to the Future
Can’t not put these guys on the list, but their spot is more honorary for how classic and memorable they are rather than actually being laugh-out-loud funny together. Still, they’re a clever pair and play two iconic characters.
5. Nicolas Cage and Chloe Moretz, Kick-Ass
As much as I would like to bag on Cage like most people, he gets a pass from me thanks to his amazing turn as Big Daddy in Matthew Vaughn’s superhero send-up. Every scene he has with Moretz’s Hit Girl is comedy gold.
4. Paul Rudd and Christopher Mintz-Plasse/Seann William Scott and Bobb’e J. Thompson, Role Models
A tie! First, you’ve got nice guy Danny (Paul Rudd) forced to play “Lord of the Rings” with McLovin himself. Then, there’s Scott, playing a variation on Steve Stifler again, watching over his own 10-year-old black counterpart. Both are just hilarious and too good to ignore.
3. Jason Biggs and Eugene Levy, American Pie
Levy brings the funny like few can as the dad who’s trying way, way, way, way too hard to be cool. Biggs plays off him brilliantly, bringing the angst of an embarrassed, dorky high schooler to this modern classic.
2. Robert DeNiro and Ben Stiller, Meet the Parents
Forget Meet the Fockers and Little Fockers if you can, because the original film in this series is still really funny, and DeNiro and Stiller are tops. From the lie detector test to the horrible volleyball accident, these two are a very worthy duo.
1. Will Ferrell and Patrick Cranshaw, Old School
Yes, they don’t spend as much time together as other pairs on this list, but I don’t think anyone between the ages of 20 and 30 could argue with the placing of Frank the Tank and Blue at the top of this list. They’re two hilarious characters who inexplicably form a tight bond. And I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say “You’re my boy, Blue!” is one of the five most ubiquitous quotes of the last ten years.