The Hitman’s Bodyguard, starring Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson, hits theaters on Friday. I probably don’t need to explain what the movie is about — it’s all there in the title and the poster.
“Get Triggered” feels like the wrong tagline for this film, but I digress. In The Hitman’s Bodyguard, Reynolds plays a wisecracking but affable bodyguard who looks supremely fantastic in suits; Jackson plays a grumpy hitman who’s all “I don’t need your bodyguarding, li’l boy.” (And since the movie is rated R, he will also say the F-word at least 12 times.) Through trials and tribulations, they will begrudgingly gain respect for each other, and by the end of the movie — as Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” almost definitely plays — they will become … friends.
No one has had more movie friends than Ryan Reynolds, by which I mean: Ryan Reynolds has been one half of a buddy duo in more movies than anyone. It’s understandable — Reynolds’s combination of likable sincerity, cool-guy sarcasm, and everyman exasperation make him perfectly suited to match up with a variety of archetypes. He can be the popular guy with a kooky sidekick, the swinging-dick bachelor to his married-with-children friend, the self-serious foil for an irreverent buddy — the list goes on and on.
What I would like to know is who was Ryan Reynolds’s best movie friend. Who was the guy (or girl) who embodied each and every aspect of what it means to be a true pal? To my mind, the most efficient way to answer this big question is by asking a series of smaller questions and eliminate lesser friends until there’s one BFF standing. But before that, let’s run through the potential candidates.
Hutch From Van Wilder
Hutch is Van Wilder’s best friend, roommate, and kinda-sorta assistant in Van Wilder, a National Lampoon movie about a total dick (in retrospect) who refuses to graduate college, commits crimes with reckless abandon, and repeatedly tells people to take notes of the things he says. It is also worth pointing out two more things: Tara Reid plays a journalist in this film, and Teck Holmes, who plays Hutch, is most famous for jumping into a pool naked in the Hawaii season of Real World.
Blade From Blade: Trinity
Blade is Blade — he needs no introduction. In Trinity, Reynolds is the sidekick, a guy named Hannibal King (perfect) who invites Blade to join his team of vampire hunters. He is also the owner of an interesting beard:
Mitch From Waiting …
This is just barely a buddy situation — it’s probably closer to a mentor-protégé dynamic. In Waiting … , Monty (Reynolds) is a veteran restaurant worker who shows new hiree Mitch (John Francis Daley) the ropes.
Jamie Palamino From Just Friends
Jamie Palamino (Amy Smart) knew Chris Brander pretty well in high school. They were … just friends. That made Chris sad, so he reinvented himself as a douchebag. The two rediscover each other and their friendship when Chris returns home one year for Christmas.
James From Adventureland
Read the above passage about Waiting …, change the names (from Monty to Connell and Mitch to James), and swap “amusement park worker” for “restaurant worker.” Everything else is oddly identical.
The Coffin From Buried
In Buried, Reynolds’s character, Paul Conroy, gets extremely close to/with a coffin after being buried alive.
Forced circumstances sometimes lead to friendships!
Dave Lockwood From The Change-Up
Dave Lockwood (Jason Bateman) is best buds with Mitch Planko. The Change-Up is also a movie whose poster does all of the talking:
Both men suffer from serious ennui, and each wants what the other has. So one day, they pee into a fountain and think about switching lives. Then that happens.
Roy From R.I.P.D.
For once, Ryan Reynolds is not in the mentor role — in R.I.P.D. that spot is reserved for Roy (Jeff Bridges). In case you haven’t seen the movie and are curious: R.I.P.D. stands for Rest in Peace Department, an afterlife organization whose sole purpose is apprehending dead people (the movie calls them “deados”) who refuse to leave the ephemeral world. No, really.
Gerry From Mississippi Grind
Gerry (Ben Mendelsohn) is a guy who is very bad at gambling; Curtis (Reynolds) is very good at it. The two meet and become friends, and go on a gambling road trip to win a boatload of money so that Gerry can pay off his debts.
Weasel From Deadpool
Weasel (T.J. Miller) is the owner of a mercenary bar frequented by Wade Wilson (Reynolds), but their relationship goes much deeper than that. You can tell they’re good friends because Weasel keeps hanging out with Wade even when his face skin melts off.
All right, so there’s your pool of Ryan Reynolds’s movie friends. Now let’s start asking some questions to weed out the day ones from the fake ones.
Question 1: Does the friend like Ryan Reynolds?
Friends should get along. Pretty simple, right? So with that in mind, here’s what Mitch says to Monty at the end of Waiting … : “Oh no, asshole, you shut the fuck up now; it’s my turn to talk. … Fuck you, Monty! Always gotta be right, with your little quips. We get it, man, you’re fucking edgy and cool. Yeah! You’re the coolest fucking guy at Shenanigan’s. Woo! That’s like being the smartest kid with Down’s syndrome.”
Mitch does not like Monty. Turns out they aren’t friends at all.
Still In: Hutch, Blade, Jamie Palamino, James, Coffin, Dave Lockwood, Roy, Gerry, Weasel
Question 2: Can the friend reciprocate human emotions?
Shit. Tough break, Coffin from Buried.
Out: Mitch, Coffin
Still In: Hutch, Blade, Jamie Palamino, James, Dave Lockwood, Roy, Gerry, Weasel
Question 3: Does the friend want to date Ryan Reynolds’s girlfriend?
A very baseline requirement for male friendship is that both gentlemen agree not to let a lady come between them. (I feel like there’s a saying for this.) So see ya later, James from Adventureland. James sidles up to Connell (Ryan Reynolds), the coolest dude in school on the staff of a small-scale theme park, gains major cred by association, shares several snobby thoughts about Lou Reed, and then is like, “Oh actually, I’m the right guy for the girl you’re hooking up with.” Now, sure, in Adventureland Connell is a married man who lives in his mother’s basement and is dating a college girl on the side. But this isn’t a morality contest; it’s a best-friend contest. And best friends don’t scoop best friends’ girlfriends. Just ask Blade.
Out: Mitch, Coffin, James
Still In: Hutch, Blade, Mitch, Jamie Palamino, Dave Lockwood, Roy, Gerry, Weasel
Question 4: Would the friend commit a crime for Ryan Reynolds?
Remember in 2004 when Carmelo Anthony was cited for marijuana possession, but then his weed carr — I mean, friend — stepped in and took responsibility? He even signed an affidavit saying that he accidentally left the weed in Melo’s backpack. That right there was true friendship. The kind of friendship that only a few of Ryan Reynolds’s movie buds would rise to.
I have serious doubts that Dave Lockwood from The Change-Up would take a charge for his boy Mitch Planko. First of all, he’s a lawyer, but he’s also kind of a coward. As for Jamie Palamino from Just Friends, she’s a very nice lady who seems extremely law-abiding. And her friend, Reynolds’s character, is a guy who is so eternally broken up about being friend-zoned by her (like 20 years ago!) that it seems like he doesn’t really value her as a human being. There’s no way she’s carrying his weed for him.
On the other hand, Blade is Blade, Weasel owns a bar for mercenaries, and Roy is a “plays by his own rules” cop from the Wild West era. Early on in R.I.P.D., he openly talks about planting evidence, so you know he’s amenable to committing crimes. And Hutch? Don’t even get me started on Hutch. In Van Wilder, Hutch helps Van inject ounces upon ounces of DOG SEMEN into eclairs as part of a prank against a mildly villainous frat house. What a guy.
Out: Mitch, Coffin, James, Dave Lockwood, Jamie Palamino
Still In: Hutch, Blade, Roy, Gerry, Weasel
Question 5: Would the friend loan Ryan Reynolds money?
There’s no question that Hutch and Weasel would do this for their respective Ryan Reynoldses. As we went over in the dog semen segment, Hutch is a ride-or-die sidekick in the truest sense of the term. Van Wilder never needed money because he was mooching off his rich dad, but if he did, I’m sure Hutch would swiftly empty his savings account. As for Weasel, in Deadpool when Wade Wilson is struggling with cancer, he offers to make him wheatgrass smoothies. Do you know how expensive wheatgrass is? Eight ounces of that shit costs like $20!
Roy is not loaning Nick money in R.I.P.D.; they’re not close like that. Gerry from Mississippi Grind isn’t either — he’s a degenerate gambler who loves money and the rush of losing it more than any one person. And I don’t think Blade is helping Ryan Reynolds out either, but admittedly, I’m just saying that because I want to make a joke about Wesley Snipes not paying his taxes.
Out: Mitch, Coffin, James, Dave Lockwood, Jamie Palamino, Roy, Gerry, Blade
Still In: Hutch, Weasel
Question 6: Most importantly, would the friend be honest with Ryan Reynolds?
A friend once told me in an H&M that I looked dumb in a fedora. It was the most important moment of our entire friendship. You can’t put a price on honesty.
So let’s consider the final two. There’s Hutch, who for seven years never told Van Wilder how pathetic it was that he was putting off graduation, wasting his family’s money, and avoiding the harsh inevitability of growing up. Hutch is a bit of yes-man — an extremely supportive one who is willing to do things that some friends would never do, but still.
And then there’s Weasel, who, after seeing Wade for the first time after a toxic fire singed his entire body, says this:
That’s a great friend right there. The best friend a Ryan Reynolds could ever ask for.