Unorthodox Buddy Cop Movies

Hello everyone! You've made it, it's finally the weekend, and for a rare few of you that might mean you don't have to work. For the rest of us, I have a special Saturday post, after two weeks of slacking off and just reviewing a third movie. I've been thinking about movies with cops in them, and that got me to thinking about the "buddy cop" genre in general. For those unfamiliar with the particulars, a buddy cop movie is at it's core about two dudes (usually law enforcement of some kind as the name implies) who team up to solve a crime or otherwise bring down the bad guys, despite dispositions or backgrounds that put them at odds with each other. This is a theme present in a ton of movies, though in more recent years it has almost exclusively appeared in either remakes, spoofs, or unusual entries into the genre. As fate and chance might have it, those movies which play somewhat against form tend to be my favorites. So now I will enumerate some of my favorite buddy cop movies, and everyone can keep their opinions about Lethal Weapon 4 to themselves.

On Latter Day Buddy Cop Movies

Feel that hot California sun burning down on you.
Bad Boys (1995): I'll start with a favorite of mine from the mid-90s era of action movies, and a movie which fits my qualifier of playing against the tropes. Bad Boys clearly fits into the buddy cop genre, being about two police officer partners, one of whom is a playboy run-and-gun type (Will Smith as Mike LAUUUWWRY), while the other is a more careful family man (Martin Lawrence as Marcus Burnett). On the unusual side, they are followed by and occasionally need to bail out Pseudo-prostitute Julie (incredibly hot dark haired Tea Leoni).  Mike and Marcus attempt to save the reputation and existence of the Miami narcotics division by taking down a seriously crazy drug lord. The process involves a lot of guns, a lot of explosions, and slow motion death scenes. You might be surprised to discover that I have here spoken favorably about a movie directed by Michael Bay, a man who I normally spend my waking hours reviling in as elevated a voice as I can manage without hurting myself. I have to mention that it is absolutely formulaic in its approach, and behaves just like all other M. Bay movies you've seen, but thanks to the improvisation of Will Smith and Martin Lawrence (I almost included Blue Streak, another M. Lawrence movie, but it was a stretch on the buddy cop theme, even for this list), two very funny guys, this movie brings a degree of entertainment that others fail to attain. Also of note, this movie was originally written with Dana Carvey and John Lovitz in mind for the lead roles, and that is just so strange that I can't even imagine what sort of movie that would have been. Congrats though Mike, I'll give you the nod on this one. Just this once.

You knew I wasn't going to get through
this without a Bruce Willis movie.
Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995): Of course, I couldn't get through a list about cop movies without mentioning Bruce Willis. You might remember I had reviewed Cop Out earlier, a film that subverts and spoofs the buddy cop dynamic (find that one here). The Die Hard series isn't buddy cop, strictly speaking, but Die Hard with a Vengeance, the third entry in the series, follows the form approximately. Instead of two cops trying to stop a criminal, Die Hard 3 stars Bruce Willis as Detective John McClane, and Samuel L. Jackson as Zeus, a harlem electrician who is also kind of a racist, and an reluctant participant in the proceedings. If you have missed out on this, an absolutely fantastic action movie, Die Hard 3 is about apparent 'terrorist' and bank robber Simon (Jeremy Irons in an actually decent movie), and his unexplained (until later) vendetta against McClane. The film's two leads (who obviously both have plenty of star power) make an excellent on screen duo, and are led on a twisting goose chase that involves (again) lots of guns, and lots of explosions. It also features a fruitless search for aspirin. For some reason critics met this movie with lukewarm reactions (despite its 366 million dollar gross, I think it was actually top grossing for 1995) citing the quote "confusing" plot twists. Apparently in 1995 critics were even dumber than they are now.

The best ever.
Hollywood Homicide (2003): I can't shake the feeling that I mentioned this movie at some other point, though I know I didn't review it. Hollywood Homicide stars Josh Hartnett (also the star of Wicker Park which I reviewed several months ago here) as the younger, inexperienced cop, and Harrison Ford as the older, more cynical cop. This plays the buddy cop routine close to the book, but plays the whole thing pretty lightly. That is to its credit, because honestly this is a tired genre that wasn't profound to begin with, and has at this point been played absolutely to death. Better then to make a joke of it before other people can at your expense right? Hollywood Homicide Follows Detectives Joe Gavlin (Ford) and K. C. Calden (Hartnett) as they investigate the murder of four rappers, possibly murdered by their producer. This movie gets the mention from me also because it was received bitterly by critics, though in a surprise turn Roger Ebert actually liked the film (he and I tend to disagree about movies) it also grossed rather weakly, especially in light of its surprisingly bloated budget (It did about 51 million dollars against a 75 million dollar budget, ouch). Too bad, I happen to like Hartnett and Ford as a malfunctioning crime duo. Also they miss out on country singer Dwight Yoakam as a dirty cop turned criminal enforcer. All's the loss to them.

So what, I'm not allowed to like the 4th one?

Lethal Weapon 4 (1998): I'm sure any of you who has ever seen a Lethal Weapon movie is asking "What? Why are you talking about Lethal Weapon four? Surely Lethal Weapon 1 or 2 should be the one to make the list, if any of them did, right? Well Those movies are probably better than this one, but for whatever reason, maybe the inclusion of Chris Rock spewing profanities, perhaps it was Jet Li beating the holy hell out of Danny Glover and Mel Gibson at the end. I'm not sure, I just know that I like this one best. Lethal Weapon, for the layperson features loose cannon, sort of mentally unstable Martin Riggs (Gibson) and by-the-book family man Roger Murtaugh (Glover) two LAPD officers, who get into... situations. In LW4, they end up trying to bring down a Chinese immigrant smuggling ring, and in doing so end up pissing off some very dangerous Triads. among them is the taciturn but obviously very dangerous Wah Sing Ku (Jet Li). Along the way Riggs and Murtaugh are assisted by Leo Getz (Joe Pesci) a former witness turned private detective, and Murtaugh's soon to be son in law Lee Butters (Chris Rock). This movie met with not so hot reviews (like basically every one of these movies) but grossed an enormous 285 million against its also pretty massive 100 million dollar budget. If you like wise cracking interspersed with gunfights and brutal hand-to-hand, then check this one out.

Starsky and Hutch (2004): This list has ended up being full of oddities, and here perhaps is the greatest one of all. I am not a big fan of Ben Stiller. I find most of his films cringe-worthy more than comical.  I am even less of a fan of Owen Wilson. We might go so far as to say that I am filled with a strong dislike for him. You can say that actually, because I am. Much like multiplying a negative by another negative however, somehow putting these two together into a cheesy remake of a 70s buddy cop tv show, that has Snoopy Dizzle in the hizzle as huggy bizzle (yeah I went there). Starring Stiller as Starsky, and Owen Wilson as Hutch the movie follows their groovy 70s attempts to bring down drug kingpin Reese Feldman (Vince Vaughn, man this movie is full of people I don't like isn't it?) In the process, there are car chases, some drugs, swingin' with the ladies, and also a weird thing with Will Ferrell in prison involving some gay stuff and dragons (I'm not kidding, and I can't really explain it. Just trust me it's weird). This film, unlike the others, actually received moderately positive reviews (though critics didn't love it). Ultimately it was a success though, and grossed around 170 million. It isn't a perfect movie, but given the parts it's made out of, I think we should all be astounded that it's any good at all.

That wraps up my list! If you're looking for some quality cop and cop team up, then this list is, in my humble, or not so humble, self-important opinion, a pretty good place to start. If you're looking for serious cop drama well... I can't help you there, this list isn't that. If you're looking for fun action movies with humor interspersed between the violence, well these run the range from more serious to less serious, and they're all worth a watch. That's it for me today, I'll see you all Tuesday! Enjoy your weekends.

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