Summer isn’t only a playground for superheroes to save the world or toys to teach us various lessons on life and death. It’s also a time for buddies who are cops to bring the fight to the streets.
STUBER is the latest film to deliver mismatched justice, as Kumail Nanjiani and Dave Bautista ride around LA busting perps in the ultimate crime-fighting session. And watching these two tear it up on the big screen makes us think back to those best and brightest buddy cop pairings we’ve seen in the history of cinema.
With that in mind, here’s our list of the top buddy cop movies that have made us want to turn in our badge and gun to go rogue, with just two days until retirement.
1. Lethal Weapon
If there was ever an origin story for the modern buddy cop movie, it’d have to be director Richard Donner’s LETHAL WEAPON. Loose cannon Riggs, played by Mel Gibson, and perpetually worried Murtaugh, played by Danny Glover, are the pair that made the format so popular in their original 1987 blockbuster — and with good reason. Their comedic chemistry offsets the serious and dark circumstances they’re investigating, balancing the film as a perfect intersection of comedy and drama.
2. Bad Boys
Sometimes, a buddy cop movie leans extremely hard on the “cop” angle, and that can work just fine. But director Michael Bay’s BAD BOYS tips the scale way over to the “buddy” half of the equation, and those results have had us wanting more of that sort of style and rapid-fire comedy ever since. With Will Smith and Martin Lawrence returning for a third time next January, this one’s been on our minds even more than usual as of late.
3. Hot Fuzz
Writer/director Edgar Wright has his own style of madness that can fit into any format that is open to the cut of its jib. HOT FUZZ showed the world what Wright could do when he and his frequent collaborators, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, teamed up for a buddy cop movie. Gun fights, car chases and a lot of upset villagers later, the film proves itself to be a rocket sled of witty comedy, with just enough of a mystery to round out the laughs at every turn.
4. The Nice Guys
To be completely honest, we could have made this whole list about writer/director Shane Black and his famous pairs of investigators who don’t exactly get along. In the interest of fairness, THE NICE GUYS is the only Black-directed entry on this list (although he also wrote LETHAL WEAPON). But this film is further proof that Shane Black understands how a buddy cop film should work, with Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling trading barbs and dysfunctions, while trying to get to the bottom of things.
5. Rush Hour 2
When the LETHAL WEAPON series took its final bow, the lightning-fast quips and action of RUSH HOUR gave the world a new team of detectives to throw their box offices dollars behind. Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan would go on to make three films in the Brett Ratner-directed series, but the best of the lot was RUSH HOUR 2, which saw the pair cracking wise, as well as cracking spines, in a globe-trotting adventure.
All of these films remember to keep the buddy in “buddy cop comedy,” and it looks like STUBER is going to do the same when it debuts on July 12! So, don’t miss this one when it comes to your local AMC theatre.