(13) Cameron Diaz, My Best Friend’s Wedding
Michael (Dermot Mulroney) is marrying Kimmy (Cameron Diaz), but his longtime friend Julianne (Julia Roberts) realizes she’s in love with him and tries to sabotage the nuptials. So after realizing that Kimmy is a terrible singer—and mortified of performing in public—she takes the couple to a karaoke bar and pressures Kimmy to sing. Kimmy chooses Nicky Holland’s rendition of “I Just Don’t Know What to Do With Myself.” And, while the performance is arguably the most painful karaoke ever, the crowd (and Michael) admires her courage, proving that the key to a good karaoke performance is guts.
(12) Steve Carell, The 40-Year-Old Virgin
In addition to never having sex, 40-year-old Andy Stitzer (Carell) has also never gotten drunk or sang karaoke before. So his pals at the electronics store where he works—Cal (Seth Rogen), David (Paul Rudd), and Jay (Romany Malco)—get him wasted and drag him to a karaoke club to let it rip. Andy chooses a song from the Broadway stage production of Zorba the Greek, and the fellas are in stitches. Don’t recognize this scene? That’s because it was a special deleted scene included on the film’s DVD.
(11) Seth MacFarlane, Ted
John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) is a thirty-something guy who has spent his entire life with Ted (voiced by Seth MacFarlane), his teddy bear that magically came to life. But now, John wants to move on and begin a new life with his girlfriend, Lori (Mila Kunis). The rowdy Ted, however, will not go gently into that good night, and invites John over to a house party filled with cocaine, booze, and their childhood hero, Flash Gordon. There, Ted belts the ‘90s classic “Only Wanna Be With You” by Hootie and the Blowfish.
(10) Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan, When Harry Met Sally ...
In this rom-com classic, written by the late Nora Ephron and directed by Rob Reiner, Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) are longtime friends who keep running into each other over the years and are clearly attracted to one another. One of their flirtatious jaunts takes them to an electronics store, where Harry tries to convince Sally to purchase a karaoke machine, and the two perform a hilarious version of “The Surrey With the Fringe on Top” from the musical Oklahoma!
(9) Chris Tucker, Rush Hour 2
In Rush Hour 2, Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan play two cops investigating the connection between the Triads and an L.A. millionaire. The investigation takes them to a Hong Kong karaoke bar, where one of the singers is absolutely butchering the Michael Jackson classic “Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough.” Tucker’s character is so incensed, he grabs the mike and does his own animated version of the tune. Tucker, of course, was a real-life pal of Jackson’s and starred in the music video for his song “You Rock My World.
(8) Paul Giamatti and Andre Braugher, Duets
The 2000 so-bad-it’s-almost-good road-trip comedy Duets, about the world of karaoke competitions, features several noteworthy turns. But it’s the duet by a burned-out salesman, played by Paul Giamatti, and his new karaoke pal, a fugitive convict played by Andre Braugher, that takes the cake. The duo performs the classic “Try a Little Tenderness” at a depressing hotel bar. Braugher’s got some pipes, but Giamatti is pretty bad (in a hilarious way). And thus, a bromance is born.
(7) Vithaya Pansringarm, Only God Forgives
In Nicolas Winding Refn’s gruesome Bangkok-set drama Only God Forgives, Julian (Ryan Gosling) is an expat in Thailand who finds himself at odds with a police lieutenant nicknamed the Angel of Death (Pansringarm) who dispenses his own brand of justice. When he’s not chopping off hands with his sword, Pansringarm’s character is singing Thai karaoke ballads at the local club. And this particularly chilling performance, following an execution, closes out the film.
(6) Jennifer Love Hewitt, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer
Probably the most hilarious scene on the list. In this 1998 slasher-film sequel, Julie (Love Hewitt) and her boyfriend Will (Matthew Settle, the rocker dad from Gossip Girl) go on a vacation to the Bahamas with pals Karla (Brandy Norwood) and Tyrell (Mekhi Phifer). One night Julie decides to perform a karaoke version of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive”—of course—until a threatening message appears on the karaoke screen. So funny.
(5) Shrek in the Swamp Karaoke Dance Party!
This DreamWorks animated short film was included as an extra on the Shrek VHS tape, as well as on the Shrek 2 DVD, and features Shrek (voiced by Mike Myers), Donkey (voiced by Eddie Murphy), Princess Fiona (voiced by Cameron Diaz), and others singing a medley of karaoke jams, including “Like a Virgin” and “Baby Got Back.”
(4) Boys Don’t Cry
In Kimberly Peirce’s 1999 film, Brandon Teena (Hilary Swank) is a trans man who moves to the town of Falls City, Nebraska, and falls in with ex-convicts John Lotter (Peter Sarsgaard) and Tom Nissen (Brandon Sexton III) and their friends Lana (Chloë Sevigny), Candace (Alicia Goranson), and Kate (Alison Folland). The three girls like to get drunk and sing karaoke, and one night they perform “The Bluest Eyes in Texas” by Restless Heart. It’s the moment Brandon and Lana become smitten with one another, and it feels like they’re the only two people in the room.
(3) Bill Murray, Lost in Translation
They love karaoke in Tokyo, so it stood to reason that music lover Sofia Coppola would incorporate a fantastic karaoke scene in her 2003 film Lost in Translation. In the film, Bill Murray plays an aging Hollywood star who’s out in Tokyo shooting a commercial, while Scarlett Johansson is a 20-something gal whose boyfriend is busy on a photo shoot. The two bored Americans eventually take a shine to each other and paint the town red. Johansson’s character drags Murray’s to a hip party where everyone’s singing karaoke, and Murray belts out a low-key version of Roxy Music’s “More Than This.” It’s a powerful scene that crystallizes both his midlife crisis and the burgeoning love between the mismatched pair.
(2) Jim Carrey, The Cable Guy
Steven (Matthew Broderick) is trying to win back his ex-girlfriend Robin (Leslie Mann) and strikes up a relationship with his oddball cable guy, Chip (Jim Carrey). But soon the lonely Chip begins stalking him, leaving tons of messages on his answering machine. After Chip fixes Steven’s cable gratis, Steven agrees to accompany him on a night out, including a house party at Chip’s, where the eccentric cable repairman with the lisp performs a towering rendition of Jefferson Airplane’s “Somebody to Love.”
(1) Joseph Gordon-Levitt, (500) Days of Summer
Tom (Gordon-Levitt) is an idealistic 20-something who works for a greeting-card company. He has a crush on the receptionist, Summer (Zooey Deschanel), and one night she invites him and his pal out to karaoke night at a bar. Tom, wasted, is pressured by Summer to take the mike and performs a spirited version of the Pixies’ “Here Comes Your Man.” Summer (and your little sister) is understandably smitten.
Honorable Mention: Vin Diesel
Actor Vin Diesel, of The Fast and the Furious–franchise fame, posted this video on Facebook of him singing Rihanna’s “Stay” karaoke style for a certain special someone—on Valentine’s Day. Words can’t describe how amazing it is.