Last Friday, our dreams finally came true: Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah’s Sister Act-meets-Save the Last Dance movie, Joyful Noise, debuted, combining two of our favorite over-the-top personalities in one giant festival of gospel, beat-boxing, and oddly close-fitting choir robes. It’s by far the campiest movie offering of the still young year, and it got us thinking about our favorite movie duos that are, to quote John Waters’ definition of “camp” from The Simpsons, “tragically ludicrous or ludicrously tragic.” Check out our picks for film’s ten most gloriously campy duos after the jump.
Cher and Christina Aguilera in Burlesque
Cher and Xtina’s turns as burlesque expert and newbie waitress, respectively, were terrifically terrible. The camp chemistry between them, however? Spectacular. It was a sequin-spangled belt-a-thon, though the lack of a Cher and Christina duet still stings a little bit.
Patrick Swayze and Wesley Snipes in To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar
Perhaps the ultimate drag queen road trip movie (tied with The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert), To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Jule Newmar stars Wesley Snipes and Patrick Swayze as surprisingly convincing drag performers Noxeema Jackson and Vida Boheme. Look out for RuPaul’s fantastic appearance in the first part of the film as the Confederate flag-draped Miss Rachel Tensions. Delicious.
Gina Gershon and Elizabeth Berkley in Showgirls
Paul Verhoeven’s camp classic Showgirls centers around the diva showgirl Cristal Connors, played by the estimable Gina Gershon, and the wannabe dancer Nomi Malone, Elizabeth Berkley of Saved by the Bell fame. The spats they get into are part of the time-honored camp tradition of over-the-top diva-offs (see also: Burlesque), and the dialogue is nonsensical at best. It’s terrifically terrible, in the most wonderful way possible.
Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
Bill and Ted is the predecessor of every Judd Apatow bromance movie, and the doofy-lovable Keanu Reeves works wonders with bro Bill Preston. They fall firmly at the slacker-goof end of the camp spectrum, managing to enlist the guru talents of George Carlin as their time-travel mentor. Party on, dudes.
Divine and Ricki Lake in Hairspray
This list wouldn’t be complete without a nod to the king of camp, John Waters, and his classic kitsch-worshiping oeuvre. Divine may be the campiest actress of all time, but combined with the adorable talk show host-to-be Ricki Lake? Pure gold.
George Clooney and Chris O’Donnell in Batman & Robin
Many Batman fans lament the time that the franchise spent in the hands of director Joel Schumacher, but it’s hard to deny how wonderfully trashy the final installment of his tenure, Batman & Robin, was. Chris O’Donnell and Michael Keaton have matching be-nippled breastplate superhero outfits, and their interactions range from comically serious to outright strange.
Lisa Kudrow and Mira Sorvino in Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion
Lisa Kudrow and Mira Sorvino are wonderfully clueless as airheads Romy and Michele, and the movie is often funnier when it’s trying to be serious than when it’s trying to be funny. We wouldn’t trade Kudrow’s stint trying to pull off her cover story as the inventor of Post-It notes for anything better written.
Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman in Black Swan
In our view, Black Swan is best and most enjoyably viewed as a magnificent piece of camp rather than a straight-ahead psychological thriller. As a drama, it takes itself laughably seriously. As a piece of the camp canon, it takes itself just seriously enough. Natalie Portman’s slow breakdown, egged on by the sly Mila Kunis, is a perfect yin-yang of outrageous straight-facedness.
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Edward Furlong in Terminator 2: Judgement Day
The first Terminator move might be a model action film, but the second one — in which the bloodthirsty terminator comes back to defend John Connor from a still more advanced terminator, the T-1000 — is best enjoyed as an exercise in crazy explosion-camp. If you don’t believe us, watch the scene when Furlong teaches the Schwarzenegger how to use slang.
Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini in From Justin to Kelly
Perhaps one of the worst films ever made, From Justin to Kelly stars the ingeniously awful duo Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini as, respectively, a singing waitress and a college student on spring break. It’s hard to describe just how awkward it gets; suffice to say that it involves a foxy beach ranger and a meeting with a cyberpal.