‘The Roommate’ and more movie odd couples
Published : Feb 11, 2011 - 18:50
Updated : Feb 11, 2011 - 18:50
Dirty dishes in the sink, wet towels on the bathroom floor, soiled clothes strewn around the apartment and loud music playing at all hours of the day and night. Or maybe obsessive neatness, enforced quiet hours, spying on your comings and goings, and bizarre food habits.

Lousy roommate? Check.

We’ve all been there. Stuck in a college dorm room with a computer-selected jerk who smokes copious amounts of dope and has loud, long bouts of sex. Annoyed by a found-on-Craigslist subhumanoid creep who trolls for porn sites on the Internet. Terrorized by a totally incompatible, anal-retentive roomie recommended by a friend or family member who insisted, “You guys will get along just great.”

Which is why it won’t be difficult to sympathize with actress Minka Kelly in “The Roommate,” opening Friday. She plays a college freshman randomly assigned a dorm-room partner (Leighton Meester) who turns out to be a psychopath obsessed with Kelly’s character, and her friends. And when those friends start turning up dead ... well, you can sort of guess the rest. Moving to different university housing is the least of Kelly’s problems.
Leighton Meester stars in Screen Gems’ thriller, “The Roommate.”(Jaimie Trueblood/Courtesy Screen Gems/MCT)

And “The Roommate” is far from the first film to deal with roomies whose cosmic differences create serious issues. Here are some of Hollywood’s most notable roommates from hell:

The Odd Couple (1968) ― Neil Simon’s classic play is the quintessential mismatched-roommates flick. Oscar Madison (Walter Matthau) is a total slob. Felix Ungar (Jack Lemmon) is a neat freak. They decide to room together when Felix’s wife kicks him out and he has nowhere to go. A big mistake at first, but the boys eventually come to some sort of accommodation. The basic concept was so successful, it was spun off into a hit TV series starring Tony Randall and Jack Klugman, a female stage version with Sally Struthers and Rita Moreno, and a TV series with a black cast headed by Ron Glass and Demond Wilson.

M*A*S*H (1970) ― A Bible-thumping prig and a barely competent surgeon, Maj. Frank Burns (Robert Duvall) is not exactly the kind of guy rebellious womanizers “Hawkeye” Pierce (Donald Sutherland), “Duke” Forrest (Tom Skerritt) and “Trapper” John McIntyre (Elliott Gould) want to share a tent with during the Korean War. So they go out of their way to taunt Burns and drive him crazy ― literally.

Carnal Knowledge (1971) ― Maybe it’s not a good idea to have Jack Nicholson as a roommate. In this classic directed by Mike Nichols, Nicholson plays a swaggering horndog who beds Candice Bergen, the woman college roomie Art Garfunkel has the hots for.

Apartment Zero (1988) ― Emotionally constipated movie buff Colin Firth rents a room to free-spirited Hart Bochner. Bochner charms everyone he meets, but wait ― could he be a serial killer? Inquiring minds want to know.

Single White Female (1992) ― Bridget Fonda puts an ad in the paper looking for a “single white female” roommate to replace the boyfriend she’s just left. Shy Jennifer Jason Leigh answers the ad, and seems to be perfect. Oops, turns out she’s perfectly psychotic.

Notting Hill (1999) ― Hugh Grant is the divorced owner of a small bookstore. His roommate is Rhys Ifans, a skinny, slovenly and totally eccentric artist wannabe described by Grant’s character as “the stupidest person in the world, only doubled.” When Grant falls for a film star played by Julia Roberts, there’s some concern that Ifans’ weirdness could destroy the relationship. Luckily, it doesn’t.

Anger Management (2003) ― Adam Sandler is convicted of assault and sentenced to anger-management therapy. His therapist turns out to be oddball Jack Nicholson, who insists the only way the Sandler character can be cured is if Nicholson moves in with him. Uh-oh. To say the therapist could use some professional help himself is an understatement.

My Best Friend’s Girl (2008) ― Another example of “be careful what you wish for.” In this case, Jason Biggs asks roomie Dane Cook, who specializes in taking girls on bad dates in order to make the guys who really pine for them look good, to ask out cutie Kate Hudson. Predictably, Hudson eventually falls for Cook, leaving poor Biggs out in the cold. Ouch!

Love and Other Drugs (2010) ― Fat, ugly and porn-obsessed loser Josh Gad moves in with brother Jake Gyllenhaal after his wife throws him out. Gyllenhaal is in the midst of a relationship with Anne Hathaway, and it seems every time she turns up at his apartment, tubby bro Gad is in his skivvies or a bathrobe. Can you saw “Ewww, gross”?

By Lewis Beale


(McClatchy-Tribune Information Services)