Our Favorite Brothers in Retro Film

There’s nothing better than a bromance, except maybe a falling out of brothers, a coming together of brothers, or a truly excellent retro film with any kind of brothers as the protagonists. 

The complex relationship between brothers has been inspiring film makers for decades which made the job of narrowing down our favorited siblings on screen quite a tall order. However, we’ve come up with our very favorite bro’s from the movies and written a little bit about them right here, so you can decide which retro flicks to add to your watch list. 

The Funeral (1996)

First up is a gangster classic. With Christopher Walken, Chris Penn and Vincent Gallo taking the three leading rolls, you know it’s going to be a timeless movie. The three play a trio of brothers, each as prone to violence as the last, Ray Chez and Johnny Tempio are their names and they inhabit the world of 1930s New York. 

The funeral that they’re all attending is that of Vincent Gallo, or Johnny Tempio and this scene is the very beginning of the film. Employing flashbacks and structural elasticity, the director, Abel Ferrara, shows the viewer how the three grappled with the difficulties in their gangster lifestyle until it landed them at this funeral. 

There are difficult twists and turns in the tale and anyone hoping for a lighthearted flick probably shouldn’t rush out and buy this one. However, viewers who would enjoy a gritty depiction of New York in the 30s as told by three emotionally stunted and quick tempered brothers will fall in love with this powerfully emotional film.

Rain Man (1988)

Some brothers have straightforward relationships, some difficult and some practically none at all. In Rain Man, the case is certainly the latter, until Charlie Babbitt, played by Tom Cruise finds out that his estranged (and very rich) father has died and left his fortune to a brother that Charlie didn’t even know he had. 

He immediately heads back home to Cincinnati and looks for his brother Raymond. He finds him living in a mental institution and is furious that all of the money has been left to him. Before working out a plan, Charlie checks Raymond out of the facility and starts the trip back to his home in Los Angeles. Along the way, Charlie discovers that despite the difficulties that Raymond has, he has an incredible gift with numbers. 

Their cross country trip to Los Angeles quickly turns into a dash and grab from all of the casinos en route. There are plenty of setbacks but Raymond’s gift at the blackjack tables, despite having never even been able to play strategy games on this page, let alone at a casino, net them some cash and they end the story a closer and richer pair.

Basket Case (1982)

The 80s are, for some people, the epitome of retro and Frank Henenlotter’s gritty and grizzly super low budget horror is one of our favorite retro horror flicks of all time. The film stars Kevin Van Hentenryck as Duane, the very archetype of high-school nerd. 

Fresh-faced and mop haired, Duane arrives on the streets of New York with a mysterious locked basket on his hip. It turns out that inside the basket is a twisted and horribly deformed Siamese twin called Belial. 

Together this pair of separated brothers go on a quest for revenge, starting off with the doctors who separated them at birth. It’s all kinds of wrong and the sort of movie that maybe wouldn’t, or indeed couldn’t, be made nowadays. However, as a piece from the 80s Basket Case is a grizzly horror film that still has its place in the world, especially if you enjoy the more grotesque aspects of human nature.

Adaptation (2002)

Believe it or not, 2002 was twenty years ago and that means this Spike Jonze film is technically old enough to be considered retro. Whether you agree with the twenty-year cut off or not, you’ll love this tale of two very different brothers, both played by the Marmite actor himself, Nicolas Cage. Before you write this film off completely, it is without doubt Nicolas Cage’s best performance, or to be exact, his two best performances. 

He plays twin brothers Charlie and Donald Kaufman, both based on the actual Charlie Kaufman’s real life. Charlie is an antisocial writer who’s plagued by imposter syndrome and crippling self doubt, whilst his brother Donald who’s quite the opposite, an enthusiastic, opportunistic hack. Charlie is totally devoted to his current piece of work, an adaptation of a Susan Orlean book entitled The Orchid Thief, he has huge doubts about his work, but uses all of his time, night and day to try to get the piece just right. 

Donald, on the other hand, has landed a huge deal to write a film script for a psychological thriller that can only be described as hugely cliché. Obviously, the brothers have their clashes, but where this film really shines through is in showing us the complexities that come in all brotherly relationships, including the fights, the friendships and the deep brotherly love.

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  1. How about The Blues Brothers? Another set of brothers that comes to mind are the Frog brothers from The Lost Boys. And of course you have the Walsh brothers from The Goonies. Another good one is The Fabulous Baker Boys. I am sure there are more, but those were some that came to mind right away.

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