Created By: rbx5 on May 14, 2010 Last Edited By: rbx5 on May 16, 2010
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Dueling Stars Movie

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This seems launchable, so barring any objections I'll do so in 24 hours.

So, let's say we've got at least two actors, with about the same level of success and popularity. They might be interested in making similar projects, have starred in similar roles, or may even be buds and want to make a film together; in any case, it is certain that people will love to see these two in a movie together to watch them go at it. Thus, we get a Dueling Stars Movie, a film whose entire reason for being (and the main reason to see it) is to see "those guys" together.

It should ne noted that a film starring two bankable actors doesn't automatically qualify as a DSM. Htere are a few qualifications that must be met:

1) The stars must be about equal in success and popularity. For instance, Lethal Weapon is not a DSM: people didin't say "Aw man, Mel Gibson and Danny Glover are making a movie together, I gotta see this!"; Gibson provided the star power here (in fact, this is the movie that made Glover a star). Similarly, Rush Hour wouldn't be considered this either: people didn't give a damn about seeing Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker going at it, they wanted to see Jackie Chan kick ass, and Tucker was along for the ride.

2) We are interested in seeing the film not only for the characters the actors play, but primarily to see them. People didn't go to see Lethal Weapon to watch Gibson and Glover play off each other, they went to see Murtagh and Riggs do that, which is an important distinction, ditto for Rush Hour. In the same vein, while movies like Harry Potter and XMen may have big name stars to their credit that we love to see together (Alan Rickman, Jason Isaacs, Kenneth Branagh, etc. for the former; Ian Mc Kellan and Patrick Stewart for the latter), we don't go just to see them, we go to see Snape, Magneto, Professor X, and so on.

Now Face/Off, on the other hand, is perhaps the Most Triumphant Example of this trope. The sheer awesome ridiculousness of the plot was just icing on the cake; what pepole really wanted to see was Nicolas Cage vs. John Travolta to see who could chew the most scenery and blow up more stuff. Of course, a DSM need not be merely a action-blockbuster; sometimes we can get films where we actually want to see the stars act: The Lion in Winter is a good exapmle of this, as the main draw is seeing two of the best actors in Hollywood (Peter O'Toole and Katherine Hepburn) give it their all while they verbally eviscerate each other for two hours (Hepburn actually won Best Actress at the Oscars for her performance).

In short, this trope could be thought of as Just Here for Godzilla as applied to the film's stars, and as a result is practically made of And the Fandom Rejoiced. It will very often (nay, almost nevitably) involve copious amounts of Feed Me, with the stars often making glorious hams of themselves, to the point that the whole movie can be made of pure, juicy meat. A Sub-Trope of All-Star Cast.

Examples:

Community Feedback Replies: 24
  • May 13, 2010
    Duncan
    Heat and Righteous Kill, were made so Pacino and De Niro could be onscreen together.
  • May 13, 2010
    Irrisia
    Forget Shia leBoeuf, supposedly the film's main character, -all- the advertising for Forbidden Kingdom was Jet Li and Jackie Chan. That's pretty much all I needed to know to go watch it, too.
  • May 13, 2010
    suedenim
    Lethal Weapon isn't a great counter-example, simply because Danny Glover wasn't really a "star" at all yet. Lethal Weapon is the movie that made him bankable.

    Probably a prerequisite is two stars of approximately the same caliber. If it's blatantly obvious who should have top billing in the movie, it doesn't qualify.

    Incidentally, I'd consider calling this Dueling Stars Movie, as it's far more about "star power" than "acting ability."
  • May 13, 2010
    highcastle
    Ironically, while Heat was indeed advertised to invoke this trope, the two leads are only in two scenes together. They spend the rest of the movie apart.
  • May 13, 2010
    rbx5
    @Irrisia: It wasn't actually Shia Le Boeuf, but thanks for the suggestion.

    @suedenim: Much obliged, I agree that title works better.

  • May 13, 2010
    ElementX
    The upcoming movie, The Expendables is fueled by this.
  • May 13, 2010
    TheBigSock
    Interview With The Vampire came out when both Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt were at the height of their success.
  • May 13, 2010
    Irrisia
    Oops. My bad. The guy's played generic teenage/young adult male in so many films, I keep putting him into movies he's not actually in.
  • May 13, 2010
    rbx5
    The Towering Inferno with Paul Newman and Steve Mc Queen. They invented "diagonal billing" (one person's name top left, the other's lower right) for that movie. Also (at McQueen's insistance) they were paid exactly the same and had the same number of lines.
  • May 13, 2010
    suedenim
    ^ I think any tale of "odd billing concerns" like that is almost invariably a signifier of this trope. Star Trek: Generations is another example, though perhaps that one is more about "Kirk and Picard" than "Shatner and Stewart," if the distinction matters, which I'm not sure it does in this particular case. (test)
  • May 13, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    Does Twins count, or does crossing this with High Concept negate it? I mean, you really do need the actors names to make the pitch make sense...
  • May 13, 2010
    suedenim
    I'd say Twins doesn't count. Arnold was the much bigger star, and the High Concept was the hook more than De Vito. De Vito was *a* star, certainly, and the High Concept probably wouldn't have sold with some unknown short actor, but ultimately I don't think it fits the trope.
  • May 13, 2010
    Twin Bird
    The Devil's Rain? Travolta was unknown then, and Shatner's more of a Sacrifical Lion, but Skerrit and Borgnine.

    Moon Child, Gackt and Hyde.

    The Bucket List, Freeman and Nicholson.
  • May 14, 2010
    rbx5
    @suedenim: I was actually debating about whether to include Generations, but I decided no to. The main draw for most people was probably seeing Kirk and Picard; seeing Shatner and Stewart together was just an added bonus. It could be argued it would still count, as those two pretty much are those characters, but it doesn't quite fit with rule 2.
  • May 14, 2010
    Earnest
    The Film Posters will have them Head to Head.
  • May 14, 2010
    melloncollie
    Mr And Mrs Smith, or "Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie Fight Each Other And Do Sexy Things"

    The trope name confuses me a bit, a lot of the examples seem to be Just Here For The Actors, rather than actors playing rival characters in-movie as some sort of "Bruce Lee vs. Chuck Norris" setup. Am I interpreting the trope the wrong way?

    Which reminds me. Return of the Dragon, one of the sequels to Enter The Dragon, is probably most known for the Bruce Lee vs. Chuck Norris fight at the end.
  • May 14, 2010
    rbx5
    @melloncollie: Yeah, the idea is, as I mentioned in the article proper, "Just Here For Godzilla as applied to the actors," though the "actors playing rival characters" scenario is a possible set-up for a DSM (see Face Off). Just Here For The Actors is actually an interesting idea for a trope in and of itself, but it's a bit broader than what I'm going for here; the Harry Potter films could be a good example of that.

    Oh, and thanks for the suggestions :) However, Return Of The Dragon doesn't really work because the movie wasn't made specifically for Bruce Lee vs. Chuck Norris, nor was Norris as well-known or popular as Lee at the time (at least I think he wasn't; I'm pretty sure it was made in The Seventies, and he didn't become big until The Eighties and The Nineties).
  • May 14, 2010
    suedenim
    Sorry, testing, and trying to figure out why I can't successfully Reply to another YKTTW. Looks like a good trope here!
  • May 14, 2010
    LeeM
    The African Queen: Bogart and Hepburn's only screen pairing. (He got an Oscar and she didn't. Say what?)
  • May 14, 2010
    YouKeepUsingThatWord
    I wanted to see Face Off because it was directed by John Woo.

    Kind of subjective?
  • May 14, 2010
    suedenim
    I don't think it's all that subjective, as it's based more on what the studio sees as the movie's top draw, and it's pretty easy to discern that from the posters, advertising, publicity, etc.
  • May 14, 2010
    SKJAM
    Bob Hope and Bing Crosby in the Road movies--you were either watching to see those two spark off each other, or for Dorothy Lamour.
  • May 14, 2010
    randomsurfer
    Remove the Butch Cassidy example. At the time it was made Robert Redford was a much less well-known & beloved actor than Paul Newman. The Sting is fine though.
  • May 16, 2010
    rbx5
    @randomsurfer: Thanks, will do.
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