Top 5 Film Companion Traits
By Bret Dorman
(As always, SPOILERS! for the movies below. also sorry about the video qualioty for #s 4 & 3, but youtube didn’t have the parts I wanted…)
There’s many types of friends out there: girlfriends/boyfriends, childhood friends, friends with benefits, and BFFs. There’s even different variants on basic friendships: from ally to comrade, associate to sidekick, bosom buddy to well-wisher, and yes, even in the digital age… penpals (of which I have one (and another very specific level of friendship) my booboo!) But for anyone who has ever owned a pet, they can tell you there is nothing like an animal companionship.
This is Annie, my Mom’s cat turned my cat. In fact, you could even say it was because of movies we formed the close bond that would eventually lead to her coming to Chicago with me instead of staying home with my parents and Gibbs. We adopted her from an adoption agency and the owners before us did some thing to cause her to basically be afraid of just about everything and everyone. And it was when I was working (mostly nights) at Blockbuster Video, coming home late with a FREE(!!!!!!!!!) movie to watch every night that she latched on to me as her favorite. We both had nocturnal-like sleep patterns, being wide awake at 3/4 am and sleeping in till about… noon/one-ish. We also both loved playing with lasers. One of her favorite things to do was to lay on my keyboard/mouse (which are on my bed which my computer is right next to) which would sometimes lead to her skipping forward a chapter or six in the movie I was watching. One of my favorite things to do was put my iPod next to her while she did this and pretend she was an iCat that played music.
Some weekends, if I was out of town, she would spend the night in my room alone. But this weekend marks the first time I will be alone. She was a good cat, had as normal a life as she wanted, and passed on peacefully. So it is to her I dedicate this Top 5. Now you could ask “Why aren’t you doing Top 5 Film Cats?” The answer is simple. I don’t want to, this topic seems better. Plus, in the same way my cat was not a people cat, not everyone is a cat person.
5) They know you better than you know yourself
We all like to think we know ourselves pretty well. We spend all day inside our heads, thinking our thoughts, talking to ourselves. Am I right? Please tell me I’m right… But sometimes it takes an outside point of view to help us with something we can’t figure out. It’s like working on a really hard sudoku pluzzle for an hour and you just can’t find where that 3 goes… and then someone looks at it with a fresh set of eyes and figure it out in a couple minutes.
Case in point: Star Wars. Luke goes from moisture farm boy who is worried about some power converters to literally having to save the entire universe in just about an hour and a half. Riding down narrow valleys shooting at a target 2cm wide? Easy. How easy? Wamp rat easy. But never before has he had to do this while driving a rickety old fighter ship, having a bunch of people yell into his ear, and being shot at by the most menacing cyborg pilot who ever flew a T.I.E. Fighter.
So needless to say he was probably a little nervous. That’s when companion Obi-wan Kenobi steps in to offer Luke some advice. Even though Luke is still a complete amateur (at best) at The Force, Obi-wan urges Luke to trust his instincts. The result? Death Star Mega Explosion! Obi-wan is such a good companion, that even death won’t stop him from helping his friends. I wish ghosts would talk to me… all I ever hear in my head is my own conversations…
4) They won’t turn their back on you…
There are a lot of temptations in our world: Money, women, power, women, fame, and women. And all of these can get in the way of friendships. But a true companion won’t let any of that stuff get in the way because their reward is getting to spend time with you! But what about fear and pain? Would your friends still help you if they were being tortured?
Case in point: The Punisher. We’ve all seen the “Tell me what I want to know” torture scene. But I’m not a big fan of piercing at all… so this particular scene is extra hard to watch. Not only that, but Dave doesn’t even know The Punisher that well. But he knows that Frank Castle has helped them out personally and that he must be a good guy trying to do good things. So even when pushed to the limit of pain, he don’t say nuthin’! Also props to Bumpo for not squealing either.
Also special props to Tom Jane who just knows how to be badass. BEfore he even checks to make sure everyone is okay, he kills the guy standing guard (with a gun… wait, no… make that paper cutter machete). His line readings here are awesome as well. I ❤ The Punisher!
3) … even if you turn your back on them.
So your friends have stuck with you through thick and thin. You’ve gone on journeys and adventures together and no matter how many piercings some mean guys rips out of your face you never turn your back on each other. Congrats! But that’s just the half of it… now you have to face each other! The better your friend, the more likely your arguments will be harsher and more cruel. You’ve got inside dirt on them and secrets they tell no one else. So after you angrily part ways vowing to never see each other again, only a good companion will come back to apologize.
Case in Point: The Brothers Solomon. Buddy movies always have that scene, just before the third act, where they get into a big fight and split up. Then, most likely less than ten minutes later, they say something heartfelt and they are even better friends. I get why everyone does it, it always works. We have to reach the lowest point in a frienship for the best part to be even better.
Here, writer/star Will Forte (one of the most under-appreciated funny men in Hollywood today) and star Will Arnett deliver the super sappy dialogue full of super sap. The dialogue itself is full of cliche with the exception of one phrase… can you find it? Listen closely!
2) Seeing you happy makes them happy
Everybody likes laughing! But not everyone finds everything funny. Even though laughing and having a good time is what we all like the most, it’s also something we have to work towards. A good friend is always ready with a joke or funny face that will make you smile. But the hardest thing to do is make someone smile when they are feeling really down. You’ve got to be a true companion to know what will make someone who doesn’t want to smile turn that frown upside down.
Case in point: Tommy Boy. Chris Farley was like America’s companion. From what I’ve heard about him he wasn’t happy until everyone at the party was smiling and laughing. Even though he was willing to play off of his own weight and do something foolish or ‘painful’, he never seemed to be pining cheaply for a laugh. He was a master of physical energy and presence.
These scene is one that will make anyone smile, no matter what. I’m not sure if its the actual sight of seeing Farley in a coat many sizes too small, the tune he puts to it, or seeing Spade give in and finally smirk a little but the end result is something no one can resist…
1) They are willing to sacrifice their robot body to inadvertently save the entire human race because you like plants
Okay so maybe not quite all that… but the idea is the same. Nothing else matters. The greatest gift a companion can give you is their friendship and they would be willing to do anything for you. I wouldn’t ask anyone to sacrifice themselves for anything I like, but the fact they would do it unquestioningly is what makes the bond so strong.
Case in point: Wall-E. I tend to look at Wall-E as a companion piece. Eve is really the main character of the story being told, she has the biggest arc to go through. And I’m a sucker for stories that are told from minor/side character points of view. Wall-E is just that. He’s the tragic hero who falls in love and goes on a journey to help Eve achieve her mission.
What I love is that Wall-E has no idea who or what people are and no idea what he is doing most the time. Like many Pixar films, the overall goal is set up right away and we see a character go through many minor and immediate obstacles to achieve that primary goal set up at the beginning (M:I:$ brilliantly borrowed from this as well). so while Wall-E doesn’t grasp what is going on, he does know that Eve needs the plant to go into the ship. What he doesn’t know is why. But he doesn’t care.
Wall-E inadvertently ends up saving the entire human race because he loves Eve. He is willing to give up his directive, put himself in danger, and even sacrifice his own body/life so that Eve can accomplish her goal. The amount of pain and suffering he goes through along with the determination to get the job done (all the while NEVER complaining about it) inspires humans to finally start to take life more seriously. Even though they are more comfortable in their easy lifestyles, seeing Wall-E care so much for something makes them want to care as well. Seeing everyone band together not to save themselves, but a tiny robot is touching. It means that yes we should care about the environment and the human race as a whole, but we should also stick together while doing it.
So there it is, five traits that make a good companion, all shown through film clips. If your friends have even one of these traits you should thank them for being great. Three or four? Consider yourself lucky. If they have all five? Well… then that means they are a robot, in which case email me at firstname.lastname@example.org because I want to meet your robot friend. Thanks loyal companions for your continued readership!