Who doesn’t love a buddy-cop film?
Sure, the genre is incredibly formulaic. There’s the gritty old-school cop who’s too old for this... ahem, stuff... who must find a way to work with a rookie who they immediately clash with in order to solve a crime and defeat the big bad guy. And there are slight variations to keep the genre fresh.
Pokémon Detective Pikachu, now in theaters, is the first live-action/animated film in the Pokémon franchise, and the next iteration of a buddy-cop film. Starring Ryan Reynolds as the lovable Detective Pikachu, the Pokémon will have to team up with a young trainer (played by Justice Smith) who is searching for detective Harry Goodman, who is also the boy’s father.
While that only loosely fits the definition of a buddy-cop film, we say it still counts.
The genre really started to become popular with the 1982 film 48 Hrs. — starring an in-his-prime Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte. In the film, Inspector Jack Cates (Nolte) must team up with a convict (Murphy) to catch a pair of cop-killers.
The success of 48 Hrs. led to a sequel, showing that there was an appetite for buddy-cop films. Which led to the incredibly popular Lethal Weapon franchise (starring Mel Gibson and Danny Glover), Bad Boys (Will Smith and Martin Lawrence), Rush Hour (Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan) to the 21 Jump Street franchise (Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum).
Those are just some of the most well-liked buddy-cop films to date. But which of these flicks is the best?
Before you see Pokémon Detective Pikachu, find out which buddy-cop film is the best of the bunch. Below, we’ve ranked the best buddy-cop films, based on Metacritic’s unique scoring system.
The 48 Hrs. sequel — starring Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte — is a "generic action picture," says the Chicago Tribune.
This action film about two undead police officers working for the Rest in Peace Department "manages to come up with fresh new ways of being absolutely terrible," according to the New York Post.
This remake of the hit TV show is "just tiresomely stupid," per Time.
This Will Smith-led fantasy film "pulls off the uncommon (and not at all admirable) hat trick of being confusing, boring and vaguely insulting," says Vox.
This comedy about two struggling friends who dress as cops is a "disposable comedy," according to The New York Times.
This buddy-cop action comedy — starring Adam Sandler and Damon Wayans — is "an embarrassment of near epic proportions," says the Austin Chronicle.
Martin Lawrence and Steve Zahn star in this comedy about two LAPD rejects turned security guards that is "astoundingly senseless," per the Chicago Reader.
Two NYPD officers (Bruce Willis, Tracy Morgan) search for a rare baseball card collection in this comedy that is "tedious to watch and torture to listen to," according to NPR.
The Ride Along sequel is "another tired, witless and potentially lucrative attempt to spin an exhausted buddy-cop template into action-comedy gold," says Variety.
The Point Break remake is "tedious and overblown," according to the Los Angeles Times.
This thriller — starring Robert De Niro and Edward Burns — is "simply a bad movie," per Film.com.
This Tom Hanks-led human-dog buddy-cop comedy is "expertly executed dreck," says Newsweek.
De Niro and Al Pacino team up for this thriller that is "hectic, exhausting and baffling. It's an embarrassment," according to The New Yorker.
This buddy-cop comedy — starring Anthony Hopkins and Chris Rock — is "predictably soulless techno-tripe," says Village Voice.
The fourth Lethal Weapon is a "dead end to a franchise that should have been put to rest two movies ago," per The A.V. Club.
Starring Will Smith, this western comedy is "all concept and no content," says the Chicago Sun-Times.
The Bad Boys sequel is "appallingly mean-spirited," according to USA Today.
"Lethal Weapon 3 is a big, dumb, noisy, comic strip of a movie that begins and ends in flames," says the Boston Globe.
The first Bad Boys — starring Smith and Lawrence — is "like a series of cliches exploding in your face," per Entertainment Weekly.
Two FBI agents (Shawn and Marlon Wayans) go undercover as white women in this comedy that "will likely test the patience of even [the Wayans'] most loyal fans," says The A.V. Club.
The first Ride Along — starring Kevin Hart and Ice Cube — is a "lazy and listless buddy-cop action-comedy that fades from memory as quickly as its generic title," according to Variety.
This 2009 crime film is a "melodrama about three clichés in search of a bloodbath," per the San Francisco Chronicle.
The third (and final) Rush Hour is "dull, uninspired and redundant," according to ReelViews.
This comedy about a thief (Lawrence) who impersonates a cop is "a dumb movie, but it's good for a few profoundly undemanding laughs," says TV Guide Magazine.
The Rush Hour sequel "in no way improves on the clichéd formula," says TV Guide Magazine.
Smith and Tommy Lee Jones reprise their roles in the Men in Black sequel that "suffers from a fatal lack of purpose," according to the Miami Herald.
In our own review of Detective Pikachu, Megan Peters raves the film "is full of heart and fulfills the wishes of fans both young and old."
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Hart team up for this comedy that is "painless, strained, occasionally amusing and utterly disposable," says the Boston Globe.
This action film — starring Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington — is "essentially a buddy-cop romp with the usual assortment pack of graphic gruesomeness," per Christian Science Monitor.
This 2004 comedy, based on the 1970s TV show, "has moments of hilarity a little greater than you might expect of a movie that is just out for a lazy good time," according to Time.
The third Men in Black is "exactly what you'd expect: amiable mediocrity and nicely laid-back performances with pricy special effects plugging in the gaps where jokes should be," per Boxoffice Magazine.
"Point Break is actually better than you would expect for about the first hour, then starts the long, slow slide into dumber and dumber dumbness," says the Portland Oregonian.
The first Rush Hour is a "somewhat lackluster cop buddy movie," according to ReelViews.
This 2013 comedy — starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy — "is kind of a mess, but it’s a funny mess," according to New York Magazine.
Starring Will Ferrell and Wahlberg, this 2010 comedy is "amusingly off-the-wall, but entirely too cluttered to come together," says the Orlando Sentinel.
A pair of NYPD detectives (Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman) search for a serial killer in this 1995 thriller "that's nasty, brutish and relatively short," per TV Guide Magazine.
This 2006 action film, based on the 1980s TV show, "delivers a reasonable amount of popcorn excitement," says the New York Daily News.
The first Lethal Weapon is a "macho-dream of an actioner," per Empire.
Two LAPD officers (Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Peña) become the target of a dangerous drug cartel in this 2012 action thriller that is a "muscular, maddening exploitation movie embellished with art-house style and anchored by solid performances," according to The New York Times.
This buddy-cop comedy, based on the 1980s TV show, is "a small puff of fresh air simply because it's not, like umpteen other releases coming down the pike, based on a comic-book series," per Movieline.
This 2001 crime thriller — for which Washington won an Oscar for Best Actor — is a "movie that rocks and socks you, and has a performance by Washington that's ruthless and scary. But in the end, it leaves you unmarked," says the Chicago Tribune.
The Lethal Weapon sequel is "a slick, cynical, high-speed assembly line of car chases, jokes, sex, explosions and blood," according to the Boston Globe.
Based on the comic book of the same name, Men in Black is "dryly clever," says The New York Times.
"48 Hrs. is as violent as it is funny. It is very funny," says The Globe and Mail.
The 21 Jump Street sequel is "a self-aware movie that makes fun of the macho clichés it indulges," per RogerEbert.com.
This classic action film is "a firepowered, blood-drenched picture that doesn't let up," according to the Washington Post.
This 2016 animated comedy is "zesty, bright and breakneck, with chase scenes and well-tuned gags where you half expect songs to be," says The New Yorker.
"Hot Fuzz is something all too rare in movie comedies: a story rather than a string of disjointed skits, with hearty characters behind its caricatures," says the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.