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The Best and Worst Buddy Cop Pairings

The buddy cop genre tells a tale as old as time. Seriously, it's such a safe and familiar story that studios churn out film after film every year with the same character types and general story. One cop is by-the-book, the other a wild man. They're like oil and water at first, but the deeper they get into their investigation, the more they appreciate their partner's way of doing things.

Of course, every once in a while filmmakers will throw a wrench into our expectations. Sometimes, the films are played for laughs. Other times, they're more action-oriented. Maybe the partners will be members of the opposite sex and fall in love. Or perhaps—and this is one of our favorites—man and beast team up to solve crime (Turner and Hooch!).

2012's first entry in the buddy-cop canon (we're not forgetting about you, Men in Black III) is 21 Jump Street, a big-screen adaptation of the 1980s TV show starring Johnny Depp. The film features the suddenly ubiquitous Channing Tatum and schlub-turned-skinny-guy-turned-Oscar-nominee Jonah Hill as former high-school rival frenemies who both join the force and are assigned to go back to high school to take down a major drug ring. In its honor, we're taking a look back at some of our favorite—and not-so-favorite—buddy cop pairings in recent movie history.

The Good

Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh, Lethal Weapon
This film is the prototype. All buddy cop films want to be Lethal Weapon, and for good reason. It was massively popular, and it's still very exciting and entertaining, even 25 years later. It certainly isn't fun or popular to praise Mel Gibson nowadays, but he nails it in this film, as does the curmudgeonly Glover.

The Bad

Katie Coltrane and Theodore Rex, Theodore Rex
One of the most expensive direct-to-video films of all-time, this earned Whoopi Goldberg a Best Actress Razzie nomination for playing a tough-as-nails detective who teams up with a talking T-rex to take down a billionaire bent on creating a new ice age.

The Better

Nicholas Angel and Danny Butterman, Hot Fuzz
You really can't go wrong with an Edgar Wright film starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, but this 2007 comedy is arguably the director's most successful and enjoyable flick, with Pegg and Frost really on top of their respective games. Plus, old people with machine guns!

The Worse

Tony Costas and Fujitsuka Natsuo, Collision Course
The thought of watching Jay Leno on late night for an hour seems insufferable, right? How about a 100-minute-long action-comedy starring the Tonight Show host and … wait for it … Mr. Miyagi himself, Pat Morita? If that wasn't bad enough, the film is essentially a carbon copy of Rush Hour, so we have the team behind this to thank for three go-arounds with Brett Ratner and Chris Tucker.

The Best

Harry Lockhart and "Gay" Perry, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
It shouldn't come as much of a surprise that the man who wrote Lethal Weapon was capable of directing another great buddy cop movie. The surprise with this film, instead, is Robert Downey, Jr. This was Tony Stark's comeback movie, and though it wasn't a hit in theaters, it's developed a massive cult following, and deservedly so. It's wickedly funny, and the pairing of Downey and Val Kilmer is one for the ages.

The Worst

Joe and Tutti Bomowski, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot
There isn't anything to say about this film (which stars Sylvester Stallone and Estelle Getty) that the tagline doesn't succinctly sum up: "She did the laundry and washed the dishes. Now she's cleaning up the streets." Absolute perfection!


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