Recently, the release of 21 Jump Street inspired me to take a look at some of the best Buddy Cop Comedies of all-time. Thinking over this inspired me to broaden my thought process to all comedy pairings.
Comedy duos have been something of a staple in the genre since the silent film era. While a good comedic actor can make for a hilarious movie, a good comedy duo just elevates things. Playing off of each other, good comedy duos can turn good into great and bring twice the enjoyment to a movie. Today, I’m going to look at my favorite comedy duos in movie history.
Before we start, I will state there are criteria taken into account when compiling this list. Mainly, the duo has to have appeared in more than one film together. Secondly, said films can’t simply be sequels, but must be independent films. For example, there will be no Steve Martin and John Candy no matter how awesome they were in Planes, Trains and Automobiles due to that being their only film together. Likewise, no Wayne and Garth mentions since they only appeared in the same franchise. Also, Saturday Night Live pairings will not be counted. Thus, Chevy Chase and Bill Murray won’t feature since they only had the one movie they were in together, outside of Saturday Night Live.
With that out of the way, let’s get started. My list of best comedy duos in movie history.
From Meet the Parents to Starsky & Hutch, Stiller and Wilson have appeared in a handful of movies together. While I’m not the biggest fan of their pairings, there’s no doubt the two work well together and provide for some definite funny moments, even if the movies do tend to be lackluster in general, in my opinion. Sorry, fans of Zoolander, I just don’t find it to be that hilarious. So, while they work well together, their movies aren’t good enough to be considered one of the true greats.
Best Movie: Meet the Parents
Ferrell and Reilly have only appeared in a couple of movies together. However, when they team up, it is always hilarious. They’re like two big kids together. Whether it’s Talladega Nights or Step Brothers, the two have some hilarious back-and-forths. With Ferrell playing the obnoxious man-child and Reilly playing the dumb, bumbling sidekick, the two have a formula they stick to and it works. I look forward to seeing them together again.
Best Movie: Talladega Nights
Pryor-Wilder pairings have been hit or miss for me, even though the pair only starred in four movies together. But even when they’re off, they still work extremely well together. Having already made solo careers, the two first teamed up in 1975 in Silver Streak. Whether you like them or not, there’s no denying the two are legends in the world of comedy, independently and as a pair.
Best Movie: See No Evil, Hear No Evil
Okay, I’m gonna kinda cheat here. Technically, the duo only ever appears as Jay and Silent Bob. Every appearance also takes place in the same Kevin Smith universe. However, not all of the movies are true sequels to one another, so, I’m gonna bend the rules. I did make the rules after all. The two have reached an iconic status. You just can’t think of comedy duos in this day and age without thinking about the infamous Jay and Silent Bob.
Best Movie: Clerks 2
This is another duo which hasn’t done many movies together. To be exact, they’ve only been in three movies together (with a fourth in the scripting stage). They also starred in the TV show Spaced together, as well. However, when they pair up, absolute hilarity ensues. After their first two movies together, Pegg and Frost practically became modern legends in their own right. Shaun of the Dead still ranks as one of the best zombie films of all-time. Never have they made a dull movie together, thus far. Put these two on-screen together and they’re sure to provide laughs. I’ll watch anything they appear in.
Best Movie: Shaun of the Dead
Cheech and Chong are legends and cultural icons. What list would be complete without these stoner buddies? With their many movies together, the duo always provided some hilarious pothead hijinks. Harold and Kumar are nothing without Cheech and Chong paving the way.
Best Movie: Up In Smoke
Master of the comedy routine, Abbott and Costello are absolute legends. If you’ve never heard of the two, then I assume you’ve been living under a rock. Everybody should, at least, know the “Who’s on first?” routine. When your comedy is so renowned that you have a place in the Baseball Hall of Fame, you surely did something right. Their patter routine became a trademark leading to many classic pairings between the two.
Best Movie: Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein
Farley and Spade. Black Sheep and Tommy Boy. Nothing more needs to be said. The pair got started collaborating on SNL, but then went on to make a couple great cult comedies. You either love them or hate them. For me, though, they were absolutely great together. Shame that Farley died, as I’m sure we could have seen more great laughs from the pair.
Best Movie: Tommy Boy
This duo made duos popular. They’re the forefathers of comedic duos. There’s no denying that Laurel and Hardy are legends. Whether you like them or not is up to personal taste, and surely time has ensured that some of their somewhat dated comedy has lost its appeal, there’s no denying they are legends in the world of comedy. Without Laurel and Hardy, we may not even have comedy duos today. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, respect ‘em you must. Not only were they great in the silent film era, but they also managed the rare feat of becoming just as great in the transition to talkies.
Best Movie: Sons of the Desert
For me, when talking of comedy duos, there is no other choice for the number one spot. Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon will forever own this spot in my book. Lemmon’s more straight-laced, white-collar style combined with Matthau’s cantankerous, blue-collar personality make for pure comedic gold. From their first pairing in The Fortune Cookie, you knew these two had something very special together. Later, The Odd Couple solidified their place as one of the greatest duos ever. Fast-forward more than a quarter of a century since their first pairing and Lemmon and Matthau brought us the great Grumpy Old Men, proving they still had it. With an appeal that spanned multiple generations, Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon truly are among the greats and are my choice as the best comedy duo of all-time.
Best Movie: Grumpy Old Men
What are your thoughts? Agree with the list? Did I miss any of your favorites? Or you feel I under-ranked one of your favorites? Let me know in the comments below.