It’s a tried and true cinematic formula that we’re probably all familiar with: Two police officers with wildly different personalities are forced to become partners. Plenty of tension and laughs are derived from their clashing approaches to law enforcement before they finally pull together at the end in order to solve a crime and arrest the bad guys. This basic storyline has been recycled in countless buddy cop movies, from Lethal Weapon with Mel Gibson and Danny Glover, to The Heat with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. And the buddy cop genre shows no signs of slowing down. Several buddy cop movies were released last year, including 22 Jump Street, with Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum; Ride Along, with Ice Cube and Kevin Hart; and Let’s Be Cops with Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans, Jr.
However, considering the genre’s long history, it’s likely that there are several comedy buddy cop movies out there that you may have never heard of or have just forgotten about. With the recent slew of buddy cop movies in theaters, we thought this would be a good time to highlight a few of the older, lesser-known buddy cop comedy films that are still funny today, although they may might not be remembered by most people. Here are four buddy cop comedy films that came out more than 20 years ago but should not be forgotten. The movies are listed in ascending order based on aggregate ratings from the critics at Rotten Tomatoes.
4. Freebie and the Bean (1974)
James Caan and Alan Arkin play two mismatched San Francisco police detectives in this early entry in the buddy cop comedy film genre. Besides serving up the usual buddy cop film mixture of slapstick comedy and violence, Freebie and the Bean also features copious amounts of vehicular destruction, including one memorable scene in which the two main characters crash their car into an apartment building.
Freebie and the Bean was a commercial success at the time of its release, with a domestic box office take of $30 million, according to The Numbers. Whether this film deserves to be remembered appears to depend greatly on whom you ask. While Freebie and the Bean only has a 30 percent approval rating from the critics at Rotten Tomatoes, it has a 73 percent audience approval rating.
3. Running Scared (1986)
Not to be confused with 2006’s Running Scared with Paul Walker or 1980’s Running Scared with Ken Wahl, this is the 1986 comedy buddy film starring Gregory Hines and Billy Crystal. In the film, Hines and Crystal play two typically mismatched Chicago police officers that are reluctantly drawn into one last case before their planned retirement.
While not successful enough to warrant a sequel like better-known 1980s buddy cop film franchises such as 48 Hrs., Beverly Hills Cop, or Lethal Weapon, Running Scared was far from being a box office flop, with a total domestic lifetime gross of $38.5 million, according to Box Office Mojo. While it was never a smash hit with the critics, Running Scared currently has a respectable 60 percent approval rating from the critics at Rotten Tomatoes.
2. Stakeout (1987)
Richard Dreyfuss and Emilio Estevez star in this film about two Seattle cops monitoring a woman whose former boyfriend recently escaped from prison. Besides Dreyfuss and Estevez, the film also features Madeleine Stowe, Aidan Quinn, Forest Whitaker, and Dan Lauria.
Stakeout was a commercial success, with a total domestic gross of more than $65 million, according to Box Office Mojo. The film was well received by most critics, and currently has an 87 percent approval rating from the critics at Rotten Tomatoes. The success of Stakeout also spawned a far less popular sequel: 1993’s Another Stakeout.
1. Police Story 3: Supercop aka Supercop (1992)
Although originally released in Hong Kong with the title Police Story 3: Supercop, this buddy cop action-comedy film didn’t make it to U.S. theaters until 1996, when it was released as Supercop. The film stars well-known martial arts comedy star Jackie Chan as Hong Kong police inspector Chan Ka Kui, while Michelle Yeoh plays Interpol director Jessica Yang.
Not surprisingly, Supercop features incredible stunts performed by its two action stars, as well as the usual comedic banter that is typically found in buddy cop films. Despite being released in the U.S. four years after its original release overseas, Supercop still managed to pull in another $16 million in box office receipts, according to Box Office Mojo. This Stanley Tong-directed film has maintained its popularity over the years and currently has a 96 percent “Certified Fresh” rating from the critics at Rotten Tomatoes.
More from Entertainment Cheat Sheet:
- 7 of the Greatest Action Movie Trilogies of All Time
- 5 Martial Arts Movies Everyone Should See
- 5 Hercules Movies That Don’t Star The Rock
Follow Nathanael on Twitter @ArnoldEtan_WSCS