Straight Man: Film


  • The 40-Year-Old Virgin:
    • Steve Carell as the eponymous character.
    • His role has some overtly comedic moments, as in the famous body-waxing scene, in which it's the ladies doing the waxing who are playing the "straight man" role.
  • Abbott and Costello: Bud Abbott from the films and radio, as mentioned.
  • Airplane!:
    • In an innovative Subverted Trope, this film had no comedic actors; in effect the entire cast was straight men reacting to the ridiculous situations they're put in (except Johnny, the fruitloop in the control tower). Yes, even Leslie Nielsen. Before Airplane!, he primarily acted in horror B-movies (anyone remember Creepshow?).
    • Creepshow came two years after Airplane!, which makes his turn as a murderous cuckold all the more unsettling.
    • He was in Forbidden Planet, however. That was anything but a comedy.
      • Unless Cooky was in a scene.
      • One Genre Savvy journalist even went so far as to say that Nielsen's job description was unchanged for his early dramatic roles and the comedic roles which he became better known for: both hinged on his ability to say completely ridiculous lines with a straight face.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger: There's a good chance that if he's in a comedy, he will play the Straight Man. This is particularly apparent in Twins and Junior, where in both he plays the straight man to Danny DeVito, but can also been seen in films like Last Action Hero and Jingle All the Way.
  • David Spade: Played the straight man to Chris Farley in a couple movies, notably Tommy Boy and Black Sheep. The duo had planned to do more films in this fashion, but due to Chris Farley's passing this never happened.
  • Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle: Harold to a T.
  • It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World: Spencer Tracy.
  • Jack Lemmon: Plays the straight man to Walter Matthau in The Odd Couple and Grumpy Old Men.
  • Jason Lee: In pretty much any role except Vanilla Sky.
  • Marx Brothers: Margaret Dumont, the classic foil for the Marx Brothers, especially Groucho. Zeppo Marx himself was a straight man for his brothers, as he had a non-comedic stage persona, but all the requisite timing and skill. After Zeppo's departure, other actors (such as Allan Jones in A Night at the Opera and A Day at the Races) would take the role.
  • Mystery Team: Kelly to the wild and zany eponymous trio.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean:
    • Will Turner plays the Straight Man to Jack Sparrow.
    • More appropriately, Will is the Only Sane Man to a crew of pirates including: Jack; a highly superstitious and heavy-drinking ex-Royal Navy seaman (Gibbs); a dwarf (Marty); a pirate whose tongue was cut out and can only talk through a parrot (Cotton); the parrot (Mr. Cotton's Parrot, whom no one can quite figure out how he was taught to speak); two formerly cursed and none-too-bright ex-crewmen of Jack's treacherous first mate (Pintel and Ragetti); said treacherous first mate (Barbossa); an undead monkey; and a rather deranged voodoo priestess and imprisoned sea goddess (Tia Dalma).
  • Revolution (1989): Desmond "Olivier" Dingle is the straight man to Wallace.
  • Star Wars: C-3P0 acts as this to R2-D2, while also providing the audience of some idea of just what is being said by his otherwise unintelligible friend.
  • The Three Stooges:
    • Larry, since his style of humor was often to merely react to the extreme characterizations of Moe and Curly (and later Shemp).
    • It is probably more accurate to say that the miscellaneous guest actors in the shorts constituted the straight men, who (like the supporting characters in Marx Bros. films) are there to act appalled at the comedians' antics.
  • Withnail & I: In a less obviously comedic example, Paul McGann as Marwood/"I" plays a pitch-perfect straight man to Richard E. Grant (Withnail), grounding his manic performance in a solid emotional reality; the film wouldn't work nearly as well as it does without him.
  • The World's End: Nick Frost as Andy. From the same trilogy, Simon Pegg's characters Shaun and Nicholas Angel were this to Ed and Danny Butterman in Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, respectively.