Mandatory Movies: What to Watch When You’re Lonely AF
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It’s a fine line between being alone and feeling lonely. If you’ve crossed over to the latter, there’s probably a sinking, dark pit in your stomach coupled with the fear that it’ll never go away. It will, but in the meantime, Mandatory Movies is here for you. We’ve rounded up enough films featuring the best onscreen friendships to last you through your social dry spell. Consider this your cinematic prescription for feeling better.
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'Stand By Me'
There’s nothing like a little preteen nostalgia when you’re feeling down. Let’s face it: you probably didn’t have a loyal gang of friends when you were 12 and you clearly don’t have one now or you wouldn’t be reading this. But Hollywood loves to tell us how youth was supposed to be, and this coming-of-age tale (adapted from a Stephen King novella) is no exception. Follow along as four boys (played by Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, and Jerry O'Connell) embark on a mission to find a missing boy’s body that will change all their lives. Along the way, you’ll learn the term “barf-o-rama,” get skeeved out by leeches, and watch the boys attempt to outrun a train.
'Grumpy Old Men'
If you think you’re lonely now, just wait 50 years, when your wife and all your peers start dying off. That’s what’s happened to John Gustafson (Jack Lemmon) and Max Goldman (Walter Matthau), frenemy neighbors fighting over Ariel (Ann-Margret), the hot new arrival in town. The old cranks turn over a new leaf, however, when each learns that the other suffers private pain, reminding us that no man is an island.
All four Gen-X characters in this 1994 cult classic are angsty, underpaid, and struggling to find their place as 20-somethings in Houston, Texas. Lelaina (Winona Ryder) is a wannabe documentary filmmaker, Vickie (Janeane Garofalo) stares down a potential HIV diagnosis after too much unprotected sex, Sammy (Steve Zahn) struggles to come out to his parents, and Troy (Ethan Hawke) is a melancholy musician who doesn’t know what he wants. These friends and sometimes roommates pull no punches when confronting one another with the brutal truth about their lives, but they also know how to have a good time (getting high while watching Good Times, anyone?). Rewind to a time when all your flirting, fighting, and fucking had to occur face-to-face because smartphones weren’t a thing.
Don’t be fooled by the title of this film (or by this GIF). While Beautiful Girls does delve into a group of guys’ troubles with the opposite sex (and features a jailbait-aged Natalie Portman), it’s really about how men’s friendships change over the lifespan. When pianist Willie Conway (Timothy Hutton) returns to his blue-collar hometown for a high school reunion, he has a lot of catching up to do with his old pals. As they try to navigate their relationships with one another and the mercurial ladies in their lives, they make a lot of mistakes and have a lot of laughs along the way. It’s good to know that some things – like good friends, dive bars, and snowy winters – never change.
You know the Rocky franchise formula by now, and Creed doesn’t divert much from it. Boxer Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) meets Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), trains like a madman, gets insanely ripped, and gives his all on fight night. But the unexpected subplot of this film is how the two lonely men care for one another and encourage each other when they have no one else rooting for them in their respective corners.
'Dumb and Dumber'
A good friend is someone you can be your stupidest self with. Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey) and Harry Dunne (Jeff Daniels) epitomize this truth on a cross-country road-trip misadventure that pummels you with crude jokes, physical comedy, and face-plant moments. This idiot circus will have you LOLing from the first scene to the last.
Never have men seen the likes of the bachelor party – or its aftermath – as crazy as that of The Hangover. When three friends (Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis) awaken in a Las Vegas hotel suite to find the groom missing, a tiger in the bathroom, and a motherless baby, they embark on a quest to figure out WTF happened the night prior. The race to find the groom in time and right their wrongs along the way proves the lengths good friends will go to in order to save your ass.
Wayne (Mike Myers) and Garth (Dana Carvey) are the slackers you might have become had you not become gainfully employed/went to college/left your parents’ house. While their doughnut-eating, cable access show-making, “Bohemian Rhapsody”-loving lives might be pathetic in reality, onscreen they're comedy gold. When your best friend sticks by you even as you’re lured to bigger and better things by a slick producer (Rob Lowe) and a sexy girlfriend (Tia Carrere), you know you’ve found a friend for life.
'Ferris Bueller's Day Off'
Being the most popular kid in high school is what many teens dream of, but Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) is living that dream and all he wants to do is play hooky. Along with his gorgeous girlfriend Sloane (Mia Sarapochiello) and his hypochondriac best friend Cameron (Alan Ruck), Bueller takes viewers on a wild ride through Chicago. The trio enjoy the Windy City's greatest sights while learning a few things about adulting (before that was even a verb) along the way.
'The Blues Brothers'
Never has there been a bromance so storied as The Blues Brothers. Fresh out of the clink, Jake (John Belushi) joins forces with his brother Elwood (Dan Aykroyd) to raise money to save the Catholic orphanage they grew up in by gigging with their band. Hijinks ensue, as do high-profile cameos by real-life R&B artists like Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles. The blues never made you feel so good.