Buddy cop movies are a great combination of action, story, and comedy— all in one. While some focus more on elements of one or the other, you can never go wrong with putting one on late at night with a big bowl of popcorn. The sub-genre absolutely exploded in the 1980s thanks to Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop and 48 Hrs.
Since then, we’ve seen dozens of buddy cop movies come and go— some good and some downright atrocious. Here are 13 of the best buddy cop movies you should check out if you’re looking for something to watch this weekend.
Rush Hour (1998)
If you’ve never seen Rush Hour before, you’re missing out. Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker star in this buddy cop franchise that uses a ton of martial arts and improv to great success. Chris Tucker’s humor, persona, and ability to think on his feet in the middle of a scene leads to a ton of quotable lines and comedic moments. Jackie, meanwhile, brings the action and ensures that each fight scene utilizes the entire environment in creative ways.
If you haven’t seen the first one, start with that. Jackie plays Inspector Lee, a detective from Hong Kong who finds himself in Los Angeles. Lee is tasked with finding the Chinese diplomat’s daughter, who was recently kidnapped, but the FBI doesn’t want him on the case and pawns him off on Carter, a detective with the LAPD who wants nothing to do with him. If you end up liking the first one, be sure to check out the two sequels it spawned.
21 Jump Street (2010)
21 Jump Street is, without a doubt, one of the funniest buddy cop movies to come out recently, and it shows. Audiences loved it for its humor, cast, and script. 21 Jump Street was originally a TV series from the late 80s that was, for some reason, revived into a movie and sequel in the 2010s. Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill as a comedic duo was unexpected, but they played it perfectly. Ice Cube offers a ton of comedic relief as an angry police captain, and we also see Dave Franco, Ellie Kemper, Rob Riggle, and even Nick Offerman.
Tatum and Hill are two new blood recruits who are sent to a special task force that is investigating a new drug making its way through high schools. Tasked with infiltrating the dealers and finding the suppliers, they get to relive all of their greatest and worst high school memories. The best part is that the sequel, 22 Jump Street, is just as funny if you’re looking for more after finishing this one.
Training Day (2001)
Moving away from comedy and more towards gritty and dark, Training Day is a critically acclaimed crime thriller starring Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke as two LAPD narcotics officers. For his performance in this film, Washington won Best Actor at the Academy Awards, and Ethan Hawke was nominated for Best Supporting Actor.
As we mentioned, the film is less comedic and focuses on the gangland within South Central LA. Officer Jake Hoyt (Ethan Hawke) is up for a promotion and gets assigned to Alonzo Harris (Denzel Washington), a respected narcotics officer. As he follows him around for his one-day evaluation, Jake learns that Alonzo isn’t as clean as he’s made out to be and is faced with a tough decision. Training Day is an innovative take on the buddy cop subgenre and is definitely a good watch.
Point Break (1991)
Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze star in this buddy cop movie about a group of surfers that rob banks. Keanu Reeves is tasked with infiltrating this group known as the “Ex-Presidents” because of their habit of wearing Halloween masks of former presidents when they rob banks. The movie was a success back when it was released in 1991 and has become a cult classic today.
It’s got emotional moments, action sequences, surfing, and one of the most iconic scenes in the buddy cop subgenre. Definitely give this one a shot the next time you’re in the mood to watch a young Keanu Reeves alongside Patrick Swayze and… Gary Busey?
Lethal Weapon (1987)
It doesn’t get more classic than Lethal Weapon. Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, and… Gary Busey? Again? Busey was everywhere back then, it seems. Anyways, Lethal Weapon is about Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson), a veteran who’s lost his wife and has become suicidal and careless. The LAPD decides to pair him with Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover), also a veteran but more level-headed.
As they attempt to deal with being partnered and Riggs’s depression, they uncover a plot that keeps getting deeper and threatens their very lives. Lethal Weapon touches on comedy, suicide, action, and more, all in 112 minutes.
A darker film on the list, like Training Day, Se7en stars Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt, tracking a serial killer who seems to murder his victims in the form of one of the seven deadly sins. In true buddy cop fashion, Morgan Freeman plays a soon-to-retire detective while Brad Pitt plays his fresh on-the-force partner— complete opposites.
Se7en was one of the highest-performing films of the year and is now regarded as one of the best crime-thrillers ever made. The ending of Se7en will leave you in shock, and you’ll finally realize why it has such critical acclaim.
The Other Guys (2010)
There are simply too many quotable moments from The Other Guys, but the most well-known is probably “aim for the bushes?” Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson provide comedic relief in the first portion of the movie before they decide to aim for the bushes, whereafter we find Will Ferrel and Mark Wahlberg taking over and investigating a massive criminal plot by a British multi-billionaire.
This buddy cop movie has so many memorable scenes: from Terry’s (Wahlberg’s) disbelief at how Allan (Ferrel) keeps getting hot women to the homeless orgy in the car to Captain Gene Mauch (Michael Keaton) trying to break up his officer’s fighting at a funeral while whispering. The Other Guys is another great buddy cop film from the 2010s that you need to check out if you haven’t already.
Osmosis Jones (2001)
A buddy cop movie that’s fun for the whole family, Osmosis Jones is the only animated movie on this list, but it also features some live-action scenes with Bill Murray. Bill Murray plays Frank, a zookeeper who’s let his health and hygiene deteriorate after the death of his wife. Inside his body is a white blood cell named Osmosis Jones (Chris Rock), who ends up having to team up with a cold pill named Drix (David Hyde Pierce) after Frank becomes sick.
Jones and Drix are up against great odds as Frank becomes sicker, and they’re on a clock to find out who or what is causing him to be sick before things take a turn for the worst. The movie itself is great for kids and teaches valuable lessons about taking care of your body. It’s not exactly a scientific 1-for-1 about the different parts of the human body, but it’s decent enough to get the message across.
Men in Black (1997)
You might not know this, but Men in Black is based on a set of comic books of the same name. While it’s advertised as more of a sci-fi action comedy, all of the Men in Black movies are, at their core, buddy cop movies. Think about it, Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) is the veteran cop, grumpy and wants things done by the book. Agent J (Will Smith) is the young hothead who thinks he knows a better way of doing things and isn’t afraid to go off the book to get the job done.
The first two Men in Black movies are classics, and while Men in Black 3 isn’t bad, you should probably stay away from the standalone Men in Black: International. It strays far from what made the originals great and doesn’t feature Will Smith or Tommy Lee Jones, two crucial parts of what made MiB, well, MiB.
Bad Boys (1995)
Bad Boys has spun off two sequels, and if you have a night with nothing to do, you’d be wise to watch all three. Will Smith and Martin Lawrence play two Miami narcotics detectives that constantly butt heads and live extremely different lifestyles. Marcus (Martin Lawrence) is a family man that doesn’t exactly like to put himself in dangerous situations if he can avoid it. On the other hand, Mike (Will Smith) is a young thunder gun who likes flashy cars, women, and catching criminals by any means necessary.
Throughout their adventures, they get into shootouts, car chases, explosions, accidentally ingest ecstasy, and more. Bad Boys 2 is the peak of the trilogy, but the first one is a great way to start the series off.
End of Watch (2012)
End of Watch might be the pinnacle of buddy cop movies. It takes a more realistic approach to buddy cop movies. It puts you right in the seats of Officers Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Miguel Zavala (Michael Peña) and even features mock body cam footage to further immerse you in their world.
Taylor and Zavala find themselves in the middle of a cartel’s sights after they perform a traffic stop on a high-ranking member who attempts to kill them. The two officers end up getting “green lit” and in a fight for their lives. End of Watch was praised for its cinematography and the fact that the actors underwent hours of police training to prepare for their roles and make it authentic.
Hot Fuzz (2007)
Simon Pegg plays Nicholas Angel, a London beat cop who’s too good at his job and is transferred against his will to a small village where there hasn’t been a murder in over 20 years. Angel gets partnered up with Danny Butterman (Nick Frost), a poor excuse of an officer who thinks that being an officer should be like Lethal Weapon or Point Break. As people start dying from unfortunate accidents, Angel realizes there is something odd about the town and begins to try and connect the dots before he’s next.
Part of the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy, Hot Fuzz is a buddy cop film that even comments on buddy cop films at one point. The action sequence at the end of it alone is a good enough reason to turn it on, but Edgar Wright’s directorial style and humor make it a must-see for anyone.
White Chicks (2004)
From the brains of the Wayans family comes a “whiteface” buddy cop movie inspired by Some Like it Hot. Marlon and Shawn Wayans play two FBI agents that are tasked with ensuring two rich white girls make it to their party in The Hamptons. A car accident that injures the girls’ faces forces the two to don makeup and implants to act like they’re the girls at the weekend party.
As they struggle with maintaining their fake personas, family drama, and a black man that has a white woman fetish, played by Terry Crews, they soon realize this is going to be harder than it looks. In short, White Chicks is a great buddy cop comedy from the 2000s and is another reason not to sleep on the Wayans family.
We hope you found a new buddy cop movie to watch from this list. Buddy cop movies are always a great way to spend a Friday night, curled up on the couch with a big bowl of popcorn or other snacks. They can be comedic, light-hearted, or serious and thrilling. If we missed your favorite buddy cop movie, let us know in the comments.