We here at Goliath are tired of hearing about critically acclaimed films. We’re tired of hearing about box office results and Rotten Tomatoes scores, and we’re tired of hearing about the astounding technical achievements of 21st century visual effects artists. What we are interested in (at least for the duration of this article), are “Friday Night Films,” a term we’re proud to coin. These aren’t the greatest movies ever made, and they certainly aren’t out there winning any awards. They don’t have foolproof scripts or legendary performances. What they do have is charm, and in spades no less. These movies are all wonderful for their rewatchability, for their familiarity, and for their awesome ability to entertain while you kick back with a few brews and a few buddies for an enjoyable “Friday Night Film.”
10. This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
There’s few movies more quotable than this beloved 1984 rockumockumentary (although the few that are will probably find their way onto this list). This Is Spinal Tap, a fake documentary which was written, directed and stars Rob Reiner as documentary filmmaker Marty Di Bergi, chronicles the exploits of hard rock/heavy metal band Spinal Tap on their American tour to promote their new album, Smell the Glove. Wonderfully intelligent in its satirical treatment of both rock stars and the rockumentary film format, This Is Spinal Tap is home to innumerable oft-quoted lines (“…these go to eleven.”) (“You can’t dust for vomit.”), and hits very close to home for many noted musicians; artists as varied as Jimmy Page, Dave Grohl, Eddie Vedder and Ozzy Osbourne have made note of how hilariously accurate the film’s representation of a musical tour can be. Gut-wrenching hilarity mixes with a classic soundtrack to produce one of the all-time great Friday Night Films. We can’t think of a better film than This Is Spinal Tap to kick off this list.
9. The Wedding Singer (1998)
Before Adam Sandler started using his movie productions as paid vacations (We’re not joking about that, either…he actually said those words), there seemed to be a point in his career where he cared about making funny movies. Perhaps the most hilarious of these films is 1998’s The Wedding Singer, also starring Drew Barrymore. Sandler plays Robbie Hart, a wedding singer who falls in love with Barrymore’s Julia Sullivan, a waitress at the reception hall where he regularly performs. A genuinely funny film with more heart than you’d expect, The Wedding Singer relishes its 1980s style (including a cameo by notorious rocker Billy Idol) and is a better movie for it. Complete with a synthesizer-laden soundtrack including a few hilarious tunes by Sandler himself, The Wedding Singer is the kind of Friday Night Film you find on cable and don’t have the heart to turn off.
8. Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
No list of Friday Night Films would be complete without the requisite Kung Fu film; rather than traffic in the well-travelled (with good reason) territory of Bruce Lee, we’ve instead chosen to highlight this much-loved cult classic of the mid-1980s, John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China. Starring Kurt Russell, Kim Cattrall and James Hong, this gem follows Jack Burton (Russell) as he attempts to battle the forces of evil which reside in the Chinatown underground. An ’80s action flick steeped in cheesy visual effects and even cheesier dialogue, Big Trouble in Little China maintains a rabid fan base for its hilarity and rewatchability along with Russell’s easy charms. Complete with Carpenter’s signature costumes and practical visual effects, this film is a great one to watch with the guys if you’re looking for some laughs and some kung fu to entertain you on the eve of your weekend.
7. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Perhaps the most critically acclaimed of the films on this list, Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead qualifies due to its overwhelming charm and unlimited rewatchability. Seriously, we cannot emphasize how much better this film gets with repeated viewings. Written by Wright and star Simon Pegg and featuring Nick Frost, Kate Ashfield and Bill Nighy, Shaun of the Dead follows Pegg’s Shaun as he attempts to win back his girlfriend Liz (Ashfield) during the fledgling stages of a zombie apocalypse. The first “zomromcom” (zombie romantic comedy), Shaun of the Dead manages to oscillate between startling originality and repeated homages to the great zombie films of old, specifically those of George Romero, making it a treat for newcomers and fans of the horror genre. The first feature film collaboration between Wright, Pegg and Frost (the others are just as enjoyable as this movie), Shaun of the Dead is a film destined to wind up as both a cult classic and a go-to movie for those folks desperate for a little gore with their laughs as they wind down after a long week.
6. Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
Just as no list of Friday Night Films would be complete without a kung fu film, it also wouldn’t be complete without a heist film; as such, we’ve chosen one of the most enjoyable heist films in recent memory, Ocean’s Eleven, to fill that role. Directed by Steven Soderbergh and featuring an all-star cast including the likes of George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Casey Affleck and Julia Roberts (among others), Ocean’s Eleven is a remake of a Rat Pack original that sees Danny Ocean (Clooney) attempting to rob a casino run by his ex-girlfriend’s new lover (Andy Garcia). This simple logline sells short the film’s clever script, organic dialogue and legitimately entertaining foray into the realm of Las Vegas casino life, and Soderbergh succeeds in crafting a film that lets his excellent cast carry the weighty load of entertainment while breezing by in a most enjoyable manner. So good it would spawn two sequels (neither of which lived up to the expectations set by the original), Ocean’s Eleven is the perfect Friday night flick for those with sticky fingers and a desire to steal from the rich to give to the needy (the needy being, you know…the thieves).
5. Snatch (2000)
Speaking of lovable ensemble films that center around a heist, we’ve got another one to spice up your Friday evenings. 2000’s Snatch, directed by Guy Ritchie and starring innumerable actors you’d recognize, including, but not limited to, Brad Pitt, Jason Statham, Vinnie Jones, Dennis Farina and Benicio Del Toro, follows a single massive diamond as it works its way through the criminal underworld of England. Featuring a standout performance by Pitt, who is almost unintelligible as Mickey the bare knuckle boxing champion, Snatch is a smart and hilarious film that should have you and anyone watching with you howling by its end. While comparisons to Ritchie’s first film Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) are unavoidable, Snatch stands on its own merit as a more polished film that’s more accessible (and easier to understand, Pitt aside) than its criminal counterpart.
4. Galaxy Quest (1999)
Ahhh, and now we approach perhaps the most criminally underrated film on this list, 1999’s Galaxy Quest. Similar in some ways to This Is Spinal Tap, this satirical send-up of the science fiction genre takes great pleasure in playing with clichés and audience expectations to hilarious effect. Directed by Dean Parisot and starring Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman and Tony Shaloub, Galaxy Quest follows the cast of a fictional science fiction show (a la Star Trek) after they are apprehended by aliens to intervene in actual extraterrestrial affairs. A wickedly smart satire which effectively pokes fun at shows like Star Trek while paying homage to their influence and intelligence, Galaxy Quest remains a great watch (or re-watch) due to its likeable cast and tight script.
3. Tommy Boy (1995)
If there’s one thing every Friday night needs, it’s more Chris Farley. The late comedian and master of physical and slapstick comedy may not have always produced critically lauded or commercially successful films, but what ones he did produce were funny. And not just a little funny…we’re talking tight stomach muscles, face melting because you’re laughing too hard funny. Of Farley’s films, we like to think Tommy Boy (1996) plays best on a Friday night. Following Farley’s lovable (but immature) Tommy Callahan as he attempts to navigate the responsibilities of running a company after his father passes away, Tommy Boy also stars David Spade, Rob Lowe, Bo Derek and Dan Aykroyd. A road trip comedy with plenty of broad appeal (it should please all members of a party when trying to decide what to watch), Tommy Boy remains a seminal comedy experience to be experienced by all.
2. Super Troopers (2001)
The king of late night comedies, Super Troopers is the kind of movie lists like this were made for. Neither critically lauded nor commercially successful, Super Troopers, which stars the comedy group Broken Lizard (Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter and Erik Stolhanski) along with Brian Cox, is a laugh-a-minute flick which has developed a devout following in the years since its initial release. Following a haphazard plot which sees the rag tag state troopers of an in-decline station as they try and outdo the local police, Super Troopers plays fast and loose with the details and instead focuses on the hilarious gags and laughs for which it’s become known. One of the most quotable films to be released in recent memory (the “Cat Game” scene in particular has given birth to thousands, literally thousands of tactfully placed “meows” mid-conversation), Super Troopers never fails to entertain no matter what day of the week it is.
1. Groundhog Day (1993)
There’s no topping Bill Murray when it comes to rewatchable and fun films. Ghostbusters (1984), Caddyshack (1980) or What About Bob? (1991) could all have topped this list; as it stands, we’ve chosen 1993’s Groundhog Day to represent the ultimate Friday night movie experience. Following self-involved weatherman Phil Connors (Murray) after he’s trapped in Punxsatawney, Pennsylvania, for a seemingly indescribable amount of time (Phil repeats the same day, over and over, for most of the movie), director Harold Ramis takes what could have been a lighthearted movie that relied on Murray’s antics, and turns into it a thoughtful, heartfelt and hilarious meditation on what it takes to transcend selfishness and be a good person. Also starring Andie MacDowell, Chris Elliot and Stephen Tobolowsky, Groundhog Day is the film you should be looking forward to when it hits 5pm on Friday night. We’ll meet you on the couch!