Missing Barbenheimer? Here’s Five Suggestions for Your Next Double Feature

Movies posters for "Girls Trip" and "Joy Ride" courtesy of Universal Pictures and Lionsgate Studios respectively.

No matter where you watch your movies, it’s easier than ever to browse a seemingly endless library of selections and watch to your heart’s content. While many people tend to do back-to-back viewings from home through the convenience of streaming, this summer’s Barbenheimer (Barbie and Oppenheimer) phenomenon reminded millions of moviegoers how fun double-feature events can be.

Barbenheimer fans made T-shirts, posters, memes, and more to make the films’ opening weekend even more of an occasion. But the craziest part of the whole thing was that Barbie and Oppenheimer are completely different movies. There really aren’t many things that a Barbie doll and “the father of the atomic bomb” have in common. (Then again, Barbie can be anything she wants.) Still, a great thing about back-to-back viewings is that there are no rules. You can put any two films together and still call it a double feature. Whether you prefer to juxtapose opposites or pair movies with similar elements or themes, here are a few ideas for your next double-feature screening.

Friends Here, There, and Everywhere: Girls Trip and Joy Ride

It takes a lot for a friends get-together to make it out of the group chat. With all the scheduling and logistics and last-minute things that pop up before (and during and after) a trip, you’ll be more than ready for your vacation by the time you get there. As soon as I saw the trailer for Adele Lim’s feature directorial debut, Joy Ride, I was pleasantly reminded of Malcolm D. Lee’s 2017 film Girls Trip. Though the purpose of travel in these movies is different, both films—as equally raunchy as they are heartfelt—follow the outlandish happenings that could occur during a girls’ getaway.

Girls Trip, starring Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Tiffany Haddish, and Jada Pinkett Smith, is about friends who call themselves the “Flossy Posse,” trying to reconnect with each other years after college. Amid the group’s hectic lives of balancing work, motherhood, marriage and dating, one of the friends, a lifestyle guru and keynote speaker named Ryan Piece (Hall), decides to invite her three friends to attend the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans. While in town, a scandal unfolds regarding Ryan’s marriage, leading to a series of mishaps and revelations for everyone involved. As friends do, the Flossy Posse laughs, cries, and has their falling-outs, and ultimately, their friendship becomes stronger than ever.

After Girls Trip, keep the party going with Joy Ride, a film about a hopeful career opportunity that turns into a chaotic search for family. Ashley Park stars as Audrey Sullivan, a lawyer and adopted daughter, who ventures to China for a life-changing business trip with her childhood best friend, Lolo (Sherry Cola),  Lolo’s peculiar cousin, “Deadeye” (Sabrina Wu), and Audrey’s college best friend, now actress, Kat (Stephanie Hsu). 

Before working together, one of Audrey’s clients insists on knowing details about her family life, prompting Audrey to find her birth mother. As expected of Joy Ride’s Bridesmaids-like humor and rowdiness, the characters definitely endured their fair share of shenanigans, like getting caught up with a drug dealer and impersonating a K-pop idol group

Be prepared for this double feature, for everything can and most likely will go wrong!

The Obsessed Artist: Black Swan and Sound of Metal

One of my personal favorite movie tropes is the concept of the obsessed artist or distressed individual. Oftentimes, these films follow an extremely focused creative or academic as they strive towards a particular goal. While they tend to have a good track record of success, their addiction to perfection and consistency begins to take a toll on their mental, physical and emotional wellbeing. Classic Hollywood films like Sunset Boulevard and more recent blockbusters like Oppenheimer have proven that the obsessed artist is a timeless movie trope.

Darren Aronofsky’s psychological thriller Black Swan, starring Natalie Portman, follows a talented ballet dancer whose pursuit of perfection in the lead role of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake leads her into a disturbing descent into madness and obsession. Portman’s character becomes so consumed by her practice that she becomes her own worst nightmare in reality and in her hallucinations.

Many critics and fans have compared Black Swan with Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash for their similar takes on chasing ambition and pushing oneself to the limit. But this time, I’m swapping the latter with another drummer movie—Sound of Metal. Starring Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal is about a heavy-metal musician struggling to accept his worsening hearing loss. Despite his doctor’s suggestion to give drumming a break, he continues to perform and make matters worse. As a recovering addict, his stress and frustration quickly pull him back into old behavioral patterns, and his “I can fix it” attitude falters. 

Like Black Swan, Sound of Metal has a very impactful ending. If you’re prepared for a few hours of intense, distorted reflection, I’d recommend starting with Black Swan and following it up with Sound of Metal

The Mid-2000s Rodent Rage: Flushed Away and Ratatouille

At some point during the 2000s, all the animation studios must have gotten together and said, “Hey, how about we all make a movie about a [insert a rodent of your choice here]?!” Since there was a bug and fish craze that happened not too many years earlier with Dreamworks’ Antz and Shark Tale and Disney Pixar’s A Bug’s Life and Finding Nemo, the rodent rage surely wasn’t a pure coincidence. Naturally, when one animation studio comes up with an animal-related family movie, all the other studios are going to try their hand at making a better one.

For the mid-2000s rodent rage, you’ve got plenty of options—Stuart Little 3: Call of the Wild (2005), Flushed Away (2006), Over the Hedge (2006), Ratatouille (2007), Alvin and the Chipmunks (2008), The Tale of Despereaux (2008), or G-Force (2009). And yes, anything Mickey Mouse-related that came out then counts too. Dreamworks’ Flushed Away and Disney Pixar’s Ratatouille are arguably two of the more popular movies on the list—and for a good reason.

Ratatouille follows Remy (Patton Oswalt), a rat living in Paris who dreams of becoming a chef. Unfortunately for him, the food and dining industry isn’t too fond of hairy critters in the kitchen. Once Remy befriends a red-headed chef named Alfredo Linguini (Lou Romano), they start cooking up delicious dishes together. None of the customers know, of course, because Remy is hiding away inside Alfredo’s chef hat, tugging on his hair to instruct him on the ingredients and recipes. Ratatouille’s Parisian cafe-sounding film score by Michael Giacchino sets the tone for the movie’s journey through hope and hardships.

Flushed Away is a little less classy and mostly takes place in the London sewer system. Roddy St. James (Hugh Jackman), an upper-class, pampered pet rat, gets flushed down the toilet to a Times Square-like town center filled with rats, frogs, and slugs. Though it’s clearly not all sunshine and rainbows at first, Roddy slowly comes to appreciate and desire the community he never had living as a pet. Flushed Away is a bit more adventurous than Ratatouille because Roddy and his new friend Rita (Kate Winslet) must run from the antagonist Toad (Ian McKellen) during a jewel heist. Regardless of which you watch first, you’re in for some good, wholesome fun throughout.

New Life, New Love: Coming to America and Crazy Rich Asians

Fish-out-of-water stories generally make for an engaging storyline because they make the audience want to root for the main characters. When it comes to romantic comedies, you just know it’s only a matter of time before the protagonists look past their differences and live happily ever after. For the couples in Coming to America and Crazy Rich Asians, this is much easier said than done.

Coming to America, starring Eddie Murphy, follows the heart-of-gold Prince Akeem Joffer’s global quest for love. As the crown heir to the fictional African country of Zamunda, Akeem is placed in an arranged marriage upon his 21st birthday. Akeem, however, would rather marry someone who loves him for who he is, not someone assigned to him because of his status. So where does he go to find his soon-to-be royal bride? Queens, New York, of course. Coming to America touches on topics of tradition and family expectations while keeping things upbeat with Murphy’s humor and banter with sideman Arsenio Hall. This classic ’80s film makes for a great starter before continuing to watch Crazy Rich Asians, another international love story.

Crazy Rich Asians begins with Rachel (Constance Wu), a young Chinese-American professor, traveling to Singapore to meet her boyfriend Nick’s (Henry Golding) family for the first time. Unbeknownst to her, her boyfriend is near-celebrity status as he belongs to one of the wealthiest families in the country. While the glamorous world of Singapore’s high society has its appeal, Nick’s family makes Rachel feel as if she’ll never live up to their standards. Crazy Rich Asians is full of gossip, drama, and secrets but never falls short of its message that love always prevails. 

“Everybody Seems To Be In On It”: The Game and The Truman Show

This double feature includes two thought-provoking movies that explore themes of reality, control, and manipulation in fascinating but differing ways. The Truman Show revolves around Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey), a man who lives a normal life on a television set. What he doesn’t know is that everyone he encounters is actually an actor, playing a role on a show about himself. Similarly, David Fincher’s 1997 thriller The Game follows Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas) as his life is manipulated through a malicious, elaborate game of cat-and-mouse.

As Truman and Nicholas become increasingly suspicious of their respective worlds and the people in them, the lines between reality and illusion blur, and the psychological distress intensifies. The Truman Show does so with a more light-hearted and satirical tone, while The Game is quite dark and suspenseful. However, with both protagonists feeling an eerie sense of isolation from their outside worlds, the two movies do a great job of highlighting complex aspects of loneliness and liberation.

While most of these double features may require a combination of various streaming subscriptions or rentals, it’s worth your while to make time for a few entertaining and perhaps enlightening hours with these movies. The Barbenheimer trend is inevitably coming to a close, but don’t let that stop you from heading back to the theaters on September 29 for this year’s most unhinged double featureSAW Patrol, a pairing of childrens animated movie PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie and horror film Saw X.

Written by Piper Starnes

PIPER STARNES is a recent graduate of Syracuse University's Arts Journalism and Communications master's program and is currently based in Los Angeles as a creative copywriter for the LA Phil. She’s a 3D and 4DX movie enthusiast and loves whodunits, stop-motion animation, and anything with a great film score.

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