The blog of Amon Warmann: Film journalist.

Film Feature | Six of the Best: 21st Century Buddy Cop Partnerships


Riggs & Murtaugh. Mills & Somerset. Tango & Cash. All buddy cop movies live and die on the chemistry between their central pairing, and over the years there have been many memorable partnerships to have put their own spin on the familiar buddy cop formula.

In honour of this week’s UK release of Ride Along – which pits comedian of the moment Kevin Hart with rapper turned actor Ice Cube – here are six of the best 21st century buddy cop partnerships.

6. Allen Gamble and Terry Hoitz – The Other Guys (2010)

Who? Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg) is a frustrated and volatile detective who, after getting demoted, has been stuck with forensic accountant Allen Gamble (Will Ferrell). Mocked and disrespected by their peers, the sudden (and hilarious) death of the department’s two star cops gives them a chance to shine.

Why? Although they’re mismatched, the focus of The Other Guys is seeing our two protagonists prove themselves, and in Ferrell and Wahlberg the film has a hilarious double act who frequently deliver laugh-out-loud moments.

Buddy Moment: Lion vs. tuna (see below).

5. Robert Trench and Michael Stigman – 2 Guns (2013)

Who? Unbeknownst to each other, Bobby Trench (Denzel Washington) and Michael Stigman (Mark Wahlberg) are both cops working undercover on the same case for their respective agencies. When their mutual deception is revealed and their superiors disavow them, they must overcome their differences to uncover the corruption within their bureaus.

Why? In the past few years Wahlberg’s penchant for fast-talking characters has become more and more evident, and he puts the skill to good effect again here playing off Washington’s smooth DEA agent. It’s their back and forth banter which makes 2 Guns an entertaining ride, and made us wonder why someone hadn’t gotten Wahlberg and Washington together prior to this film. No matter; a sequel is on the way. 3 guns? 2 guns with a vengeance? The title discussion begins here…

Buddy Moment: Unsure of whether or not to trust each other, an amusing game of ‘let me go first’ helps break the tension.

4. Sarah Ashburn and Shannon Mullins – The Heat (2013)

Who? Sarah Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) is a skilled but arrogant FBI agent who is sent to Boston to track down a ruthless drug lord. With a promotion up for grabs, she grudgingly accepts the opportunity to prove she can be a team-player by partnering with a local cop; foul-mouthed officer Shannon Mullins (Melissa McCarthy).

Why? Whilst McCarthy’s talent for verbal zingers is the engine of this particular pairing, in Bullock she has an entertaining foil to play off of, and both add welcome heart to their characters as well. Bullock has since dispelled any notions of sequels, but to not return to these characters would be a missed opportunity indeed.

Buddy Moment: A night out drinking gives way to drunken dancing.

3. Morton Schmidt and Greg Jenko – 21 Jump Street (2012)

Who? Morton Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Greg Jenko (Channing Tatum) are former classmates who reunite in police academy and go undercover as brothers at a high school to stop a new synthetic drug.

Why? There was some initial scepticism surrounding the casting of Hill and Tatum, but any doubts were quickly dispelled once we got a load of the endearing, laugh-out-loud bromance between the oddball pair. It was pleasantly surprising to discover Tatum’s comedic talents and he and Hill play off one another brilliantly, a combination we’re looking forward to seeing again in this year’s sequel.

Buddy Moment: Having taken the drug, the duo stick their fingers in each other’s mouths in an attempt to get each other to throw up.  A sure-fire sign of a solid partnership…

2. Nicholas Angel and Danny Butterman – Hot Fuzz (2007)

Who? Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) is a no-nonsense, by-the-book policeman who finds an unlikely friend in Danny Butterman (Nick Frost), an incompetent fellow officer who is obsessed with action movies. Together, they uncover the nasty secrets that lurk behind the seemingly crime-free village of Sandford.

Why? As directed by Edgar Wright, this buddy cop comedy is both self-aware satire and homage to action movies. The relationship between our two coppers is the glue that holds it all together, and the effect their initially conflicting personalities have on one another are amusing to watch. Pegg and Frost at their finest.

Buddy Moment: Bonding over drinks, Bad Boys II and Point Break. Simple pleasures.

1. Brian Taylor and Mike Zavala – End of Watch (2012)

Who? Officers Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Michael Peña) are partners and best buds in gangland LA. The former is filming the duo’s patrols for a college project, giving us an up close and personal view of a day in the life of LA’s finest.

Why? Peña and Gyllenhaal’s chemistry is infectious throughout, and whether they be engaging in banter or discussing their fears, the back and forth between them is never less than compelling. Indeed, this is a bromance that really gets under your skin.

Buddy Moment: Any time spent in the car with our protagonists delivers great moments, but it’s the powerful conclusion that most epitomizes their bond.

Honourable Mentions

David Starsky (Ben Stiller) and Ken Hutchinson (Owen Wilson) – Starsky & Hutch (2004)

Sonny Crockett (Colin Farrell) and Ricardo Tubbs (Jamie Foxx) – Miami Vice (2006)

David Bouchard (Patrick Huard) and Martin Ward (Colm Feore) – Bon Cop, Bad Cop (2006)

Detective P.K. Highsmith (Samuel L. Jackson) and Detective Christopher Danson (Dwayne Johnson) – The Other Guys (2010)

Thomson (Nick Frost) and Thompson (Simon Pegg) – The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (2011)

This article was originally published at HeyUGuys.

One response

  1. Great post! I wasn’t a fan of End Of Watch but I love The Other Guys and 21 Jump Street – the character relationships are so zany!


    March 4, 2014 at 9:17 am

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