Sometimes, you just can’t beat a good “guy movie.” You don’t have to be a guy to enjoy these films, but you must be able to manage testosterone-fuelled action which will no doubt contain fighting, guns, mobsters, car chases, explosions, and (female) nudity. This could be a description of almost any action film, but great “guy movies” are much more than this. The truly great ones will tap into the male psyche and explore masculine themes which will have impacted every guy watching the film.
So get your beer, bong, and pizza ready, here are 22 of the greatest guy movies of all-time. Enjoy!
22. Pacific Rim (2013)
There are very few things more masculine than explosions (we’re not really sure why that is, mind you), so it makes sense to start this list off with a bang (ugh…we’re sorry). Guillermo Del Toro’s Pacific Rim (2013) provides plenty of explosions as it pits massive, human-controlled robots called Jaegers against giant alien monsters called Kaiju, who often rise from a dimensional rift in the ocean to wreak havoc on humanity. That’s about as complicated as it gets, but that’s alright for a movie like Pacific Rim; it knows what it is, and there’s something refreshing about that honesty, you know? Yeah, the dialogue is pretty painful at times and the acting is decidedly woody, but it’s got Idris Elba doing his best Bill Pullman from Independence Day (remember how insanely awesome that speech was?) and it has MONSTERS FIGHTING ROBOTS. Yeah, we hope that sticks out when you look at the paragraph because that’s all we really need to say about this flick anyway.
21. Office Space (1999)
In the future, when people are looking back at what jobs were like in the mid to late 1990s, we really hope what they stumble upon is Office Space (1999). A sharp comedy about the mundane idiosyncrasies of the day-to-day grind, the 9-5, the dreaded workplace, Office Space was written and directed by the always under-appreciated Mike Judge, whose works of satire are almost always smart, funny and painfully truthful in ways we can’t yet hope to understand (watch his 2006 film Idiocracy, starring Luke Wilson… you’ll see what we mean). Office Space is no different and the film, which stars Ron Livingston, Jennifer Aniston, and Stephen Root, has developed a massive cult following since its release. A sure-to-be classic that people will watch for decades to come (at least we’re hoping), Office Space is a movie that you and your friends will be able to relate to all too well.
20. The Expendables 2 (2012)
Now here’s a film series that was meant for Friday night with the fellas. And before we go any further, we want to explain that we’re putting The Expendables 2 on this list rather than The Expendables (2010) because we believe the sequel is the superior film, both in delivering the awesome set pieces required of a film that has this many action stars, but also in it’s enjoyable self-awareness. It knows it’s ridiculous, and it revels in it. That’s a beautiful thing, you know? Directed by Simon West and starring every action movie veteran since 1981, including but not limited to Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Bruce Willis and man, even Arnold Schwarzenegger and Chuck freaking Norris is in this movie! If that cast list didn’t do it for you in lieu of a logline, we’ll tell you that the film is about a group mercenary group whose mission becomes personal when an old villain returns with a grave threat. But you didn’t really care about the plot, did you?
19. Wedding Crashers (2005)
It’s not all gunfights and grenade launches around these parts, though. We’ve got comedy too, and there are few things more heartening for a man than a good old fashioned bromance, of which David Dobkin’s Wedding Crashers (2005) is more than capable of providing. Starring Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn as two unruly divorce lawyers who crash (that is, attend uninvited) weddings in order to woo women caught up with the idea of romance. The plan goes swimmingly (and even includes a montage) before the duo runs into trouble upon crashing the Cleary wedding, where they meet their future ladies of choice (Rachel McAdams and Isla Fisher). Also starring Christopher Walken and Bradley Cooper, Wedding Crashers is a wickedly funny movie that’s filled with excellent quotes (“Rule #18: No excuses, play like a champion”) and some heartwarming man love that’s sure to be appreciated by the gents in the room.
18. Braveheart (1995)
We’re actually a bit shocked Braveheart (1995) isn’t a little higher on this list, especially after thinking on the number of times we’ve actually sat in a room and watched this film with our friends (spoiler alert, it’s many, many, many times). Directed by and starring Mel Gibson (before he decided to dabble in a bit of craziness), Braveheart is the story of William Wallace, the 13th century Scot who led his people in the First Scottish Independence War against King Edward of England, and it’s one of the most epic films ever produced. While the film is riddled with historical inaccuracies (the depths of which have been meticulously scrutinized by historians worldwide), Braveheart manages to succeed in telling an inspiring story, perhaps why it was nominated for ten Academy Awards, winning five (among them Best Picture, Best Director and Best Cinematography).
17. Swingers (1996)
Another seminal guy flick in the mold of Wedding Crashers, Swingers was directed by Doug Liman and written by Jon Favreau, who also stars in the film alongside Vince Vaughn and Ron Livingston. The trio plays single, unemployed actors living on the fringes of Los Angeles, and deals with issues as important to the gents as friendship and masculinity. A hilarious flick filled with quotes you’ve heard people say a thousand times, Swingers is just really damn cool. Vince Vaughn is at the top of his game as the fast-talking, good-ish intentioned Trent Walker, and a supporting performance by the lovely Heather Graham is always nice to see. With some nice elements of drama mixed in with the laughs, Swingers provides everything you’d need for a solid night in with the guys and cements its status as a quintessential guy flick.
16. Old School (2003)
“We’re going streaking!” So shouts a naked Will Ferrell in one of the comedian’s best-known roles, a starring one as Frank “The Tank” in 2003’s Old School, directed by Todd Philips. While Ferrell’s iconic scene is one of the most recognizable in the funny man’s career, it’s just one of many classics in this hilarious take on the frat comedy. Featuring a plot which revolves around the impromptu starting of a fraternity to maintain the lease over a newly-rented house, Old School won’t be winning any awards for ingenuity but it does supply endless amounts of laughs and a good deal of man love, two things very much appreciated by the folks currently occupying your living room. Also starring Luke Wilson, Vince Vaughn, and Jeremy Piven, Old School maintains its status as a comedy titan by being remarkably re-watchable and infinitely quotable.
15. Casino Royale (2006)
Let’s get one thing straight; there’s nothing, nothing in this world manlier than Bond, James Bond. Get it? Got it? Good. Now listen, because we’re here to tell you why Casino Royale makes for the best Bond flick for you to watch with your buddies. Recent enough to be familiar and suave enough to feel classic, Casino Royale introduces Daniel Craig as the newest holder of the 007 codenames and sees him chasing an international banker who caters to terrorists, played by Mads Mikkelsen. Also starring Eva Green and directed by Martin Campbell, Casino Royale is one of the finest entries into the Bond canon and while it may lack some of the campiness of its earlier entries, it more than makes up for this factor with exotic locations, quality acting throughout, and a good deal of high-grade action sequences to boot. While we’re all in agreement that Connery is the best Bond ever, we’re just saying that this particular Bond movie makes for the best one to watch with your friends. But that’s just like, our opinion man…
14. The Big Lebowski (1998)
Written, produced and directed by dynamic duo Joel and Ethan Coen, The Big Lebowski is the definition of a cult classic. No, seriously… if you go look up “cult classic” in the dictionary, we’re willing to bet you’d find a big picture of Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski (Jeff Bridges) in lieu of a definition. Following Lebowski on an absurd traipse through the seedy underworld of Los Angeles after a case of mistaken identity results in the loss of a very, very important rug. The kind of rug that really ties the room together. Also starring John Goodman, Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi, and John Turturro, The Big Lebowski is about as funny, strange, and engrossing as films get. It’s the kind of movie that gets better and better the more times you watch (it’s been a film school favorite since its release). Likened to both a western and a detective story, it really doesn’t matter what you call it, as The Big Lebowski is simply excellent every way you slice it.
13. Easy Rider (1969)
We’re going classic to close out this list, and there are very few classics in the history of cinema that can top Easy Rider (1969) for guy appeal. This exemplary counterculture film was written by stars Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper, with the latter also choosing to direct the film. It follows two young bikers as they travel through the American Southwest, enjoying their non-traditional lifestyle and experiencing a variety of substances not tolerated in other areas of the country. Notorious for using real drugs on-screen, Easy Rider is a film very much in sync with the 1960s, and it approaches the issues, controversies, and culture of the era with a delicacy and respect not often seen in cinema. Also starring Jack Nicholson and released to strong reviews, Easy Rider is a must-watch movie for any guy who yearns for the open road and the familiar hum of a motorcycle between his legs (spoiler alert, that’s all of them).
12. National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978)
Directed by John Landis, National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978) is a movie that most (nay, every) guy will have already seen. It’s also the one movie (well, this and Die Hard) that no man can resist watching, no matter the case. Just watched it two nights ago? Yeah, pop it in! We can watch it again! Starring John Belushi, Tim Matheson, and Peter Reigart, Animal House is an all-time classic that trades exclusively in laughs and invests solely in hilarity, with a tepid sort of plot that revolves around an unspecific number of strikes against a specific fraternity for…shenanigans. Yes, we will leave it at shenanigans. Well-crafted characters and a maniacal energy help elevate the fraternity hijinks above their puerile peers, and while the film is still puerile, there’s some level of sweetness and sincerity to the film that adds a level of joy that could have otherwise been absent.
11. Goodfellas (1990)
Goodfellas is widely considered (mostly by men) to be the greatest crime movies ever made, so it should come as no surprise that it made this list. The unforgettable gangster classic remains one of Martin Scorsese’s greatest films to date and features Joe Pesci as the cold-blooded and psychopathic killer Tommy DeVito, a performance so outstanding he earned the Academy Award Best Supporting Actor in 1990.
Starring Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, and Robert De Niro, the film is an adaptation of Nicholas Pileggi’s nonfiction text Wiseguy and follows the rise and fall of the Henry Hill, a mafia member involved with the Lucchese crime family. Stylish, violent, smart, funny, superbly acted, superbly written and incredibly enjoyable, Goodfellas is the big, bad gangster that all others aspire to be.
10. Dirty Harry (1971)
The “guy movie” audience love renegade cops, antiheroes, and brilliant quotes. Dirty Harry ticks all of these boxes, and Clint Eastwood is a big figure in the “guy movie” category (more on him later). This 1971 action-thriller classic tells the story of detective Harry Callahan, a rogue cop who shoots first and asks questions later, who is looking to take down a psychotic serial killer calling himself Scorpio. Harry has his own moral code and will not hesitate in breaking the law if it gets the job done. Not conforming to orders is what makes Harry, and all antiheroes, such enjoyable characters, and ones that the “guy movie” audience cheers for. Harry has become an iconic antihero and one which has inspired many that came after. There are, of course, dozens of fantastic quotes from this film too, making it a great choice for any guy movie night.
9. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Most classic “guy movies” you can sit back and enjoy without becoming too heavily invested; this is not the case for the 1998 war masterpiece, Saving Private Ryan. It is a brutally realistic war film which captures the horrors of battle, set during the Invasion of Normandy in WWII. The opening sequence will leave viewers completely stunned and horrified, but it is also a fantastic story and brilliantly crafted by Steven Spielberg. The story follows a group of soldiers that go into enemy territory to locate Private Ryan, whose three brothers were killed in action. It is a deeply engaging and emotional journey that they go on, and it explores brotherhood and the psychological impact of violence and war on individuals. The unflinching approach makes it a difficult watch at times, but it redefined the entire war genre and is an excellent “guy movie” (but also much more than this).
8. Lock, Stock & 2 Smoking Barrels (2002)
Guns, a heist, gambling, gangsters, violence, cockney rhyming slang, British humor, and Vinnie Jones. Guy Ritchie’s 2002 British crime-comedy film, Lock, Stock & 2 Smoking Barrels ticks all the boxes for a classic “guy movie.” Not only does it contain all of the above, but it is also a brilliantly told story which uses interweaving narratives. This makes it an impressive, clever and unique film which will keep the audience engaged from start to finish. It features all kinds of fantastic characters (Barry the Baptist, Hatchet Harry, Big Chris and Nick the Greek), some exhilarating action, and it is also hilarious and very, very British. Snatch (featuring a similar cast plus Brad Pitt) could also feature on this list, and for a proper “guy movie” night, you will not regret watching both back-to-backs. You may even find you’ve developed a cockney accent after.
7. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
The Western genre may not be taken too seriously, but there are some classic spaghetti Westerns which make for a brilliant “guy movie” night. The entire Dollars trilogy by Sergio Leone is worth watching, but it is the final installment, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, which is the most famous. Antiheroes are a staple in “guy movies” because the (typically) male audience is more likely to relate to these characters. Clint Eastwood is the master of playing the antihero, and this is perhaps his finest performance in the role. The plot follows three gunslingers all competing to find a fortune during the American Civil War, and there are many fantastic duels and battles along the way. In addition to the gun-toting fun, it is also famous for using stylistic long shots and close-ups, as well as all your favorite Western tropes.
6. The Terminator (1984)
For any fan of “guy movies,” or guy culture, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is a legend. The bodybuilder (who became Mr. Universe at age 20) turned actor turned politician (amongst many other strings to his bow) has starred in dozens of “guy movie” classics, and his sense of humor, work ethic and astonishing strength and size make him a hero in the genre. In his most famous “guy movie,” The Terminator, it is not a hero he plays however; it is the antagonist of the film. He was originally offered the lead role but correctly decided that playing a cyborg assassin from the future was a much more realistic role for him. In addition to being a highly quotable film, it also features some excellent and relentless action sequences and is now considered to be an important film in the genre (and would launch the career of director James Cameron).
5. Rocky (1976)
An important theme in “guy movies” is one man’s struggle against the odds, and this can be inspirational to the audience as well as highly enjoyable. This is most evident in the 1976 boxing drama, Rocky. It is a rags-to-riches tale of a working-class Italian-American boxer, who gets a shot at the heavyweight championship. Rocky “The Italian Stallion” Balboa first must train for the big fight, spawning the world famous training montage, which has been created countless times and becomes an iconic cinema moment. The story may be predictable, but this does not take away from how enjoyable it is, and you can be sure that every guy that sees this film will be trying that little bit harder in the gym the next day. Rocky would turn Sylvester Stallone into a major star, as well as spawn five sequels (also compulsory “guy movie” watches).
4. Fight Club (1999)
The clue is in the name with this one. Fight Club is one of the greatest “guy movies” of all time, and not just because it has Brad Pitt and Ed Norton and features a bunch of guys beating the hell out of each other. Fight Club taps into the male psyche and what life is like as a modern day male, seeing the characters backlash against consumerism by starting Fight Club, which soon evolves into an anti-materialist organization called “Project Mayhem.” Although it did not perform well upon release, Fight Club has gone on to become a critical and financial success and is therefore considered a cult film. It has an abundance of blood and violence, but it is also a fascinating film which explores life as a male in a materialist world. As Tyler Durden puts it, “It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.”
3. Scarface (1983)
The Scarface poster adorns the wall of millions of males, and lead character Tony Montana has become a cultural icon (particularly in the rap genre). It tells the story of a Cuban refugee, going from nothing to becoming the biggest drug kingpin in Miami, and it, of course, features hard drug use, strong language and an enormous amount of violence. It is essentially a rags-to-riches story in a gangster setting, and this will always attract and retain male interest. It is also a highly quotable film (like all good “guy movies”), and this includes classic lines such as “You gotta make the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the power. Then when you get the power, then you get the women.” Scarface has all the necessary for a great “guy movie,” and it is also considered to be a classic and important piece of cinema history.
2. Die Hard (1988)
When you discuss “guy movies,” there is a good chance that this will be the first film that springs to mind. Watching Die Hard for the first time is almost a rite of passage for any male, and this is for good reason. Starring Bruce Willis, it is the ultimate action film and somewhat of a benchmark for the genre. The hero is an off-duty cop with family problems, and it features Eurotrash villains led by the brilliant Alan Rickman. There are countless brilliant one-liners, guns, explosions, helicopters and hand-to-hand combat, all set inside a Los Angeles skyscraper on Christmas Eve. There is more than enough action and comedy to keep you entertained from start to finish, and John McClane’s struggle to foil a terrorist plot all by himself (in bare feet) makes him a brilliant action hero, and up there with the best of them.
1. The Godfather (1972)
Widely heralded as one of the greatest films of all time, The Godfather also falls under the “guy movie” category. It is a film which connects with a male audience quite unlike any other film, and this is because it explores many typically male themes such as pride, family, honor, and revenge. This is all explored in a mob setting, where Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) is dragged into his family’s organized crime operation after an assassination attempt on his father, Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando). Michael’s transformation is utterly fascinating, and a large part of why this film is so popular and celebrated. It has also been hugely influential on the entire gangster genre, which is, of course, a big player in the “guy movie” department. Whilst The Godfather can be enjoyed by those that are not a fan of “guy movies,” it resonates with this audience, unlike any other movie.