This week sees the release of 21 Jump Street, a buddy cop comedy starring Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill. Buddy films have been around for a while, dating back to the silent era. In the 30s, Abbott and Costello & Laurel and Hardy were highly popular. The success of the genre eventually led to the popular buddy cop subgenre, starting off with such TV shows as I Spy and Starsky and Hutch.
While the buddy film theme spans several genres, the theme has really made a home in the realm of comedy. Buddy cop movies have become so popular in the world of comedy that they’ve even reached a point of being cliche and extremely formulaic. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty to enjoy, as the subgenre has spawned plenty of hilariously great movies. Today, I’m going to look at the subgenre and pick my top 10 buddy cop comedies. Check them out below.
Richard Dreyfuss and Emilio Estevez team up in this comedy from John Badham. The two pair as cops on a stakeout, watching the ex-girlfriend of an escaped criminal in an effort to capture him. Somewhere along the way, Dreyfuss’ character falls in love with the ex (played by Madeleine Stowe). What follows is action and plenty of hijinks between Dreyfuss and Estevez. I think Richard Dreyfuss is a bit underappreciated as far as comedy goes. The guy always manages to crack me up, and here is no different.
9. Rush Hour
This was the one that made Jackie Chan a household name among mainstream audiences here in the United States. Combining Chan’s awesome (no stunt double) action sequences with the hilarity of Chris Tucker, Rush Hour went on to be a big hit, spawning a couple of sequels even. The movie isn’t the greatest, but it does provide plenty of fun and laughs. Chan and Tucker make a good pairing, providing a slightly fresh spin on the buddy cop theme.
8. Hot Fuzz
After Shaun of the Dead, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost became a comedy duo to watch out for. Here they return with writer/director Edgar Wright in their second outing. While the movie isn’t on par with Shaun, it still provides plenty of laughs and solidifies Pegg and Frost’s status as a great comedic duo.
7. The Guard
This is the newest on the list and one of only two foreign films on here (the other being Hot Fuzz). It seems this tried and true subgenre just isn’t as popular outside of the U.S. The Guard doesn’t entirely appear as a buddy cop comedy, mainly due to the fact that the two cops work somewhat separately for a good portion of the movie, as they each go their own way in attempting to bring down a drug ring in Ireland. The two cops in question are played by Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle. Both are hilarious in here, especially Gleeson. His comedic talent really shines in his back-and-forths with Cheadle. This 2011 movie was one of the best comedies of the year.
6. Bad Boys
Damn what people say about Michael Bay. I like his work and I’m not going to apologize for it. This one was his debut as a feature film director and it’s a damn fun ride. The chemistry between Will Smith and Martin Lawrence is wonderful too. Their back-and-forth banter provides plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. On top of that, there’s plenty of fun action to make this movie all that much better…it is Bay after all.
5. Beverly Hills Cop
This is the one that really put Eddie Murphy on the A-list as a movie star. While the comedian had a couple hits before, this solidified his status and shot him to international stardom. If you adjust for inflation, Beverly Hills Cop is still the third highest grossing R rated movie of all-time. It’s not your conventional buddy cop movie, though (which wasn’t such a conventional subgenre back then). Murphy plays the lone wolf cop through this movie, but, along the way, he’s aided by the more straight-laced cops, played by Judge Reinhold and John Ashton. Plenty of fun and laughs here. Quite frankly, this is Eddie Murphy’s best role to date.
4. Men In Black
The buddy cop subgenre goes extraterrestrial in this hit starring box office money-man Will Smith, partnered with the much more straight-laced and drier Tommy Lee Jones to contrast with Smith’s hip, wise-cracking young blood on the scene. The movie also features greater smaller roles from Rip Torn, Tony Shalhoub and Vincent D’Onofrio. There are tons of laughs to be had here. Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith work wonderfully together, their two differing personalities complimenting each other so well. The franchise has spawned sequels, animated shows, video games, theme park rides and even tripled sales for Ray-Ban. That’s quite an impact. At the end of the day, this is just an absolutely fun ride and one of the best sci-fi comedies of all-time.
3. 48 Hrs
This is the movie that pretty much helped make the buddy cop subgenre. While Beverly Hills Cop is Murphy’s better role, this one is just the better movie. This comes largely due to the addition of Nick Nolte here. Nolte plays the old-fashioned, jaded cop to Murphy’s slick-talking, hip criminal. The chemistry between the two provides plenty of comedic moments and both actors do a great job in the movie. On top of all that, there’s plenty of drama and action to keep things very interesting and fun all the way through.
2. Turner and Hooch
The buddy cop subgenre doesn’t allow stick to the traditional pairing of two cops. This is evidenced by 48 Hrs pairing of cop and criminal. Turner and Hooch takes on a whole new variation. This one pits Tom Hanks with a dog. Despite having no real “partner” here, Hanks and the dog actually have great moments together, which add a level of heart to this movie. I dare you not to get choked up by the end. Tom Hanks is in great form here as well. Good acting, plenty of humor, and the down-home type of heart and soul that only Hanks can bring to a movie. This is an absolutely must-see for any fans of the subgenre, or Hanks.
1. Lethal Weapon
If 48 Hrs helped really make the subgenre, then Lethal Weapon took it to a new level and helped define the subgenre. The movie has gone on to influence a number of other films in the subgenre, including previously mentioned Bad Boys and Rush Hour. This is the epitome of buddy cop movies. While the movie is much more action-thriller than other entries, Mel Gibson and Danny Glover provide plenty of laughs. The two make a perfect pairing that is (and always will be) iconic. Not only is Lethal Weapon the best buddy cop movie of all-time, it’s one of the best action movies of all-time too. If there’s any movie that defines the genre, it’s this one. An absolute must-see. Actually, I’m disappointed if you haven’t seen this already.
So, there you have it: my favorite buddy cop comedies of all-time. What do you think? Like the list? Did I leave off one of your favorites? Let me know in the comments below.
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