Now, observes Early Show national correspondent Hattie Kauffman, there's a new wave of buddy flicks, being dubbed "bromances," in which the tough guys are getting more sensitive, and really like each other.
Straight characters, notes Kauffman, are bonding in ways Butch and Sundance never imagined, in movies such as "Pineapple Express," "Wedding Crashers," and "Superbad," and in TV shows such as "How I Met Your Mother."
"Male bonding" is nothing new in movies, she points out. But the guys seem to be bonding more closely than ever.
Says James Franco of "Pineapple Express": "Guys usually have a problem expressing how they feel to each other. So, these kinds of (films) tap into that awkwardness."
Adds Seth Rogen, also of "Pineapple": "It's a new age of awkward male relationships, and we're ushering it in, I think."
According to "Entertainment Weekly" staff writer Adam Vary, "A 'bromance' is essentially a romance between two straight male friends. It's not that they're in love with each other; it's just that they have a deep feeling of affection for each other."
In "Wedding Crashers," there was more genuine affection between the two male leads than with most of the women in the movie, Kauffman says. Same with most of Will Ferrell's comedies, and almost all the recent movies from producer Judd Apatow, such as "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" and "Superbad."
"I mean," Vary says, "at the end of 'Superbad,' ... the two characters, I mean, say, 'I love you.' ... They certainly are more forward about expressing their love for their friend. Butch and Sundance wouldn't have done that!"
It's not just in the movies. The "bromance" between the male characters is at the heart of the TV sitcom "How I Met Your Mother." Star Jason Segel says, "We're a new generation of man, that doesn't have to hide behind this façade of being macho. We can be how you actually are."
Segel is even working on a new "bromantic comedy" called "I Love You, Man."
Rogan explains that, "To us, these movies are just basically a format for us to tell each other we love each other. And we think, 'How is that easily digestible?' You add in machineguns, and mainstream movie accoutrements, and then we can just hug each other all day ... and no one complains about it!"
Segel's comedy "I Love You, Man" comes out next year. It's all about a newly-engaged guy who sets out to find the perfect best man for his wedding. "Bromance," Kauffman says, doesn't get any better than that.