The silver screen has been home to some of the most outlandishly hilarious cop comedies, starring a slew of Hollywood’s most entertaining performers. These uproarious flicks are notorious for tickling the funny bone of audiences across the world, endlessly amusing fans with beloved characters, sidesplitting jokes and dazzling portrayals. The buddy cop genre is a highly utilized trope in comedy cinema, which forces the pairing of two conflicting personalities to work together, naturally producing ridiculously delightful hijinks. The 1982 Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy led comedy 48 Hrs. is often credited as being the first movie to be a buddy cop feature; the beloved comedy staple would set the precedent for future films.
With so many memorable and funny flicks to choose from, narrowing down the list of the best of the best can be quite daunting. The big screen has introduced moviegoers to some seriously spectacular cop comedies, such as the Michael Bay big-budget extravaganza Bad Boys that famously launched the cinema careers of both Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. The adored comedy duo Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are well-known for their on-screen antics, starring as the perfectly mismatched police officers in the smash hit Hot Fuzz. These are some of the funniest cop comedies.
9 Starsky & Hutch
Comedy dream team and frequent collaborators Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson headline the 2004 buddy cop remake of the famed 1970s TV series Starsky & Hutch, with the adaptation serving as a prequel to the original hit show. In the hilarious flick, Stiller portrays the high-strung David Starsky and Wilson the easy-going ladies man Ken “Hutch” Hutchinson, and follows the two Bay City Police detectives as they are forced to be partners and bust drug criminals with the help of underworld boss Huggy Bear.
The farce features a far-out cast of talented performers including Vince Vaughn, Will Ferrell, and Snoop Dogg, with the rapper showing off his acting and comedy chops as the groovy street informant Huggy. The film is propelled by the undeniable chemistry of Stiller and Wilson while capturing the playfulness, vibe and humor of the original show; the San Francisco Chronicle praised the remake, writing, “Starsky & Hutch is funny throughout, but with a handful of really hilarious moments of a kind that most comedies just don’t deliver.”
8 The Heat
Paul Feig directed the side-splitting 2013 action comedy The Heat, which centers on the mismatched partnership between the arrogant and uptight FBI agent Sarah Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) and the hot-headed loudmouth Boston detective Shannon Mullins (Melissa McCarthy), as they attempt to take down a ruthless drug lord. The entertaining picture is screenwriter Katie Dippold’s feature film debut, who was inspired by the buddy cop genre and fellow flicks like Running Scared and Lethal Weapon and set out to write a project in which the leads were portrayed by women.
McCarthy is in all her comedic glory as Mullins, showcasing her fearless and uproarious range while playing off her foil Bullock’s humor superbly. The Heat is jam-packed full of rude and crude jokes, thrilling action sequences and lively banter between the two actresses, and went on to be a slam dunk with moviegoers, grossing $229 million worldwide.
7 Police Academy
Hugh Wilson made his directorial debut with the epic 1984 comedy flick Police Academy, which stars Steve Guttenberg, Kim Cattrall and G.W. Bailey, and tells the hilarious story of a new recruitment policy for an unnamed police department’s academy that is required to take in any recruit who wishes to join; this causes a group of amiable but incompetent misfits to enter the academy in hopes of becoming police officers. The good-natured farce is a criminally funny film that utilizes the talent of its dynamite cast, with Guttenberg leading the pack of oddball recruits as the suave, troublemaking rebel Cadet Carey Mahoney.
Police Academy went on to spawn six sequels and kickstarted the popular franchise, though the original was the most critically and commercially well-received; the Washington Post gave a glowing review of the comedy, writing, “Police Academy is the most uproarious film to come along in years. You have the right to remain silent, but you can’t help but laugh out loud.”
6 21 Jump Street
The always entertaining Jonah Hill co-wrote and stars alongside Channing Tatum in the 2012 action comedy 21 Jump Street, an adaptation of the classic ‘80s show that follows police officers Schmidt and Jenko, who are forced to go undercover as high school students to catch the supplier of a new synthetic drug. The film takes on a highly comedic tone, departing from the more dramatic and earnest approach the original series was known for; Hill described the modern remake as an “R-rated, insane, Bad Boys-meets-John Hughes-type movie.”
Both Hill and Tatum shine as their offbeat counterparts, with the former portraying the smart but socially awkward Schmidt and Tatum his slow-witted yet handsome partner. For the adaptation, many of the show’s actors made an appearance, including Johnny Depp, Holly Robinson Peete and Peter DeLuise. 21 Jump Street was a box office hit and garnered positive reviews from audiences, and it was followed up with the equally successful 2014 sequel 22 Jump Street.
5 Bad Boys
The king of big budget, stylized action flicks, Michael Bay made his directorial debut with the 1995 buddy cop comedy Bad Boys, which centers on two Miami narcotics detectives Marcus Burnett and Mike Lowrey as they protect a witness to a murder while secretly investigating a case of stolen heroin from the evidence storage room from their own precinct. The fast talking, wise-cracking Will Smith and Martin Lawrence are comedy gold in the big-screen extravaganza, and since Bay disliked the script so much he continuously encouraged the funnymen to improvise their lines and jokes.
Arsenio Hall was actually supposed to star in the flick alongside Lawrence but turned it down, and the Smith/Lawrence pairing ended up being the perfect comedy concoction. Bad Boys helped seque both Smith and Lawrence from television to film and was commercially successful, gaining a strong cult following; it spawned two box-office hit sequels, 2003’s Bad Boys II, and 2020’s Bad Boys For Life.
4 48 Hrs.
The exceptional Eddie Murphy made his impressive feature film debut alongside Nick Nolte in the 1982 action comedy 48 Hrs., in which the famous stars portray the wise-cracking convict Reggie Hammond and hard-nosed cop Jack Cates, who join forces to catch two cop-killers on a murderous spree in San Francisco. Director Walter Hill initially wanted Richard Pryor to appear alongside Clint Eastwood for the flick, and when Nick Nolte signed on, Hill’s then-girlfriend recommended the role of the convict be played by the exciting and hilarious new comic on Saturday Night Live, Eddie Murphy.
48 Hrs. is often referred to as the first buddy cop movie and went on to earn critical acclaim, with Murphy and Nolte being praised for their entertaining banter and charming dynamic; the former was nominated for a Golden Globe for his exceptional performance. The Associated Press wrote, “48 Hrs. is the best cops-and-killers movie to come down the speedway since Dirty Harry. What makes it work are Walter Hill’s switchblade-sharp direction, and the inspired team of Nolte and Murphy.”
3 Rush Hour
It’s the ultimate culture clash when two mismatched police officers are assigned to rescue a Chinese diplomat’s abducted daughter in the 1998 buddy action comedy Rush Hour. Martial arts great Jackie Chan joins the wisecracking Chris Tucker for the sidesplitting flick, in which Chan portrays the noble Hong Kong Detective Inspector Lee, who will stop at nothing to find the little girl; he gets pawned off on the fast-talking joker Detective James Carter, leading to comical chaos and mayhem. Both actors bring their A-game for the film, with their magnetic chemistry and amusing ribbing of one another one of its greatest assets.
Director Brett Ratner wanted to put Chan in a buddy cop movie, not as a co-star or sidekick but on equal footing of his American counterpart; he thought Tucker would be the perfect foil to the performer after seeing his performance in Money Talks. The comedy was a massive hit with audiences, and its box office success led to two sequels: 2001’s Rush Hour 2 and 2007’s Rush Hour 3.
2 Hot Fuzz
The always delightful comedy duo Simon Pegg and Nick Frost headline the second installment in the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy, 2007’s action comedy Hot Fuzz, which follows skilled London police officer Nick Angel who is transferred to the sleepy British village of Sanford and partnered with a well-meaning buffoon; after a series of grisly murders occur in the seemingly idyllic town, Nick begins to suspect something sinister is lurking beneath its charming surface.
Director Edgar Wright and Pegg spent 18 months writing the script, with the pair wanting to create the picture because “there isn’t really any tradition of cop films in the UK…we felt that every other country in the world had its own tradition of great cop action films, and we had none.” As usual, Pegg and Frost are dazzling as the cleverly ridiculous characters, with Empire praising their incredible dynamic: “After almost a decade together, they’re clearly so comfortable in each other’s presence that they feel no need to fight for the punchline, making them terrific company for two hours.”
1 Beverly Hills Cop
In the film that shot the hilarious Eddie Murphy to international stardom, the exciting comedian stars as Axel Foley in 1984’s Beverly Hills Cop, portraying a street-smart Detroit cop who visits Beverly Hills, California to solve the murder of his childhood buddy. Murphy beat out a slew of notable actors for the role, including Richard Pryor, James Caan, and Al Pacino, and outright replaced action star Sylvester Stallone two weeks before production began.
The comedy superstar and his co-stars John Ashton and Judge Reinhold frequently improvised most of their comic lines, and literally hundreds of takes were ruined by the crew, actors or the director laughing during shooting the scenes. Beverly Hills Cop was an immediate blockbuster hit, receiving both critical acclaim and raking in $316 million; Murphy was nominated for a Golden Globe Award and the picture was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Screenplay. The film spawned two sequels, with a fourth installment currently in the works at Netflix.
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