I thought it would be an easy task to write about this year's best examples of on-screen chemistry. It's my favorite part of the cinematic experience, and one of the most important pieces of the puzzle. Without chemistry, any film is destined to fall quickly and be forgotten. Remember The Mexican? Brad and Julia might have been stars, but it takes a lot more than a big name to make a movie.
But who to choose? While I loathed the big-screen adaptation of Sex and the City, Carrie and Big have always held that certain something. Happy-Go-Lucky contained a wonderful romance, but it wasn't the thing of legend. I could certainly cite Maggie Gyllenhaal in The Dark Knight, and how she was a refreshing breath of charismatic air after the bland coupling of Christian Bale and Katie Holmes. (Heck, I can't even add in female ensembles, because the ladies from Sex and the City were too busy with romantic drama, and the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 could have been called Sisterhood of the We're too Old for This Crap.)
But none of these, nor the many other couples that graced our screens in 2008, came close to the halls of bromance. The only duos that contained palpable, memorable chemistry over the last year have been men. (Funny for a nation where Proposition 8 can get passed, but I digress...) Bromance isn't usually the theme to lead chemistry lists, but when a year brings us awesome blockbusters, but barely a whiff of spine-tingling sexual tension, we have to take what we can get.
The best male duo to grace the screens in 2008 was, by far, Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen. While Renee Zellweger failed to add an enticing female charisma to the cast, Ed and Viggo certainly made up for it. They understood each other, and they couldn't be broken by random disagreements. Even better, Everett Hitch knows Virgil Cole so damn well that he can fill the blanks in Cole's sentences with the littlest of effort. Every moment the pair are on-screen, it's magic.
While the film might not be either Will Ferrell or John C. Reilly's most beloved comedy, their chemistry is certainly something to note. No grown men can give the wide-eyed look of adolescent exuberance quite like Will and John. They are a natural pair, almost seeming more like real brothers than anything of the step variety. From the burnt rubber of Talladega Nights to the crushing homemade bunk beds of Step Brothers, Ferrell and Reilly are 40-something comedic magic.
After the wickedly annoying Harry Osborne, it was easy to forget the magic of James Franco. That is, until he was re-teamed with Seth Rogen for Pineapple Express. In a flash, Franco was reinvigorated and thrust into one of the greatest matches in 2008. The pair brought new life to the world of buddy adventure, as well as weed-influenced buddy comedy. Forget Katherine Heigl, Kirsten Dunst, or Elizabeth Banks -- the real chemistry is between these two bros.
The Dark Knight
This isn't quite a duo-against-the-world scenario, but one of the most important pieces to the magic of The Dark Knight was the chemistry between cast members. As I mentioned previously, Maggie certainly upped the female ante, but the true chemistry came from Heath Ledger, and whoever he graced the screen with, whether that be Batman himself, Harvey Dent, or even Gordon. The chilling mirth of the Joker was laced with irresistible charisma, and that made every scene all the better.
The film was completely ridiculous, but the chemistry between Robert Downey Jr., Jack Black, and Ben Stiller made Tropic Thunder a wonderful comedic hit. Black and Stiller both brought new life to their acting, while RDJ stole just about every scene as Kirk Lazarus, while still seeming perfectly at home and familiar with both Ben and Jack. It never would have been a combination I'd have thought of, but the trio worked wonderfully.
Getting back to a rough and tough boys club was just the thing that Guy Ritchie needed. The director proved that his real strength lay not with Madonna, but with gun-toting, yet sweet, men in Britain. Gerard Butler and his Wild Bunch made RocknRolla not just an attempt for Ritchie to return to form, but a success -- all because the tough guys weren't just tough -- they were charismatic and played brilliantly off each other. Now if he can find that magic in Sherlock Holmes, Ritchie will start to break out of that rut, and we'll get a wonderful, chemistry-filled film.
Be Kind Rewind
While not Michel Gondry's best film, Be Kind Rewind gave us a ridiculously funny independent adventure with Jack Black and Mos Def -- one that surely wouldn't have had the same chemistry as any other pair. (And shockingly, two charismatic films for Black in '08.) Together, Jack and Mos could tackle not only a ridiculous plot, but also sweded versions of the classics we've loved over the years -- Ghostbusters, Driving Miss Daisy, Boyz in the Hood, Robocop...
Who do you think had the best on-screen chemistry in 2008?