With 22 Jump Street hitting cinemas this week and the buddy cop caper having enjoyed something of a resurgence in recent times, we take a look at nine of the funniest cop comedies ever made.
Naked Gun (1988)
The late Leslie Nielsen is on genius form in the first cinematic outing of inept yet ultra straight-faced detective Frank Drebin – out to foil an assassination attempt on the life of Queen Elizabeth II.
Full of sublime slapstick and great gags (“nice beaver!”), it’s no surprise that Nielsen went on to reprise his role for two successful sequels. His performance is a masterclass in deadpan delivery.
Hot Fuzz (2007)
Unceremoniously dispatched to a small, sleepy village in the middle of nowhere, crime-busting super cop Nick Angel thinks his career has well and truly hit the skids – until he uncovers a horrifying conspiracy.
Directed with typically eccentric flair by Edgar Wright, and featuring ever likeable turns from Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, this middle instalment in the Cornetto Trilogy sends up Hollywood action flicks with unabashed glee. Introducing shoot-outs and explosions into parochial life is as entertaining as you might expect, while Timothy Dalton is an absolute riot as the moustache-twirling villain.
Utterly preposterous in the best possible sense, this inspired farce unites Tom Hanks and Dan Aykroyd in an action-packed saga that takes in dodgy fancy dress, a sinister secretive cult, and the world’s most disastrous police raid.
Both leads have a lot of fun as the mis-matched detectives, and the tone is pitch-perfect throughout, neatly blending hard-boiled noir with cartoonish lunacy to joyous effect.
Tango & Cash (1989)
As a badass cop so confident in his own skills that he looks like he just rolled out of bed, grabbed a gun and plunged straight into the action, Kurt Russell’s laid-back hero is the slacker flipside to Sly Stallone’s straight-laced detective.
When the two are framed for a crime they didn’t commit, the odd-couple dynamic gets taken to a whole new level. Stallone gamely plays the straight-man while Russell has an absolute ball: hilariously conceding the cell toilet, taking on all-comers in a full-on prison scrap, and letting rip with angry outbursts in court (“this f***ing sucks!”).
Starsky & Hutch (2004)
Nobody expected this to work, but somehow it did. Rebooting the iconic ’70s TV show with Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson in the title roles, and a genuinely top-notch Snoop Dogg as Huggy Bear, all subtlety goes out of the window as writer/director Todd Phillips aims squarely for laughs.
Terrible disguises, unintentional drug use and accidental animal murder all help in this regard. But it’s the disco dance-off scene that really steals the show.
21 Jump Street (2012)
Nobody expected this to work either, yet it delighted critics and set the box office alight. Deservedly so too: Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are excellent as a pair of young, ultra-incompetent cops who find a lot has changed when they head back to high school.
Going undercover on a narcotics assignment, the often witty and frequently absurd action sees Hill’s sensitive nerd becoming more and more popular, while Tatum’s cocky jock ends up a social outcast. Throw in a great trip-out sequence, constant target-hitting punchlines and a sublime car chase, and you have one of the finest comedies of the decade so far.
Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
The movie that made Eddie Murphy a star is a stone-cold classic: an engaging, exhilarating fish-out-of-water scenario that takes streetwise, rule-shirking Detroit detective Axel Foley to LA – on a mission to find those responsible for his friend’s murder.
As a breezy thriller dealing with the usual hard-ass police bosses, personality clashes and puzzle-solving conundrums, it’s an awful lot of fun, and there’s no doubting that music is great, but what really elevates this is Murphy’s performance. He machine-guns out his wisecracks, comebacks and ever quotable one-liners with ultra-slick panache.
The Other Guys (2010)
Opening with a jaw-dropping blast of chaotic swagger from Samuel L Jackson and The Rock – whose action movie exploits are sent-up in genius fashion – the real heroes of this underdog story are in fact Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg’s downtrodden underdogs, who team-up for a brilliant bout of surreal, unhinged scheme-foiling.
The running gag about Ferrell’s oblivious ladykilling talents is hilarious, while a tremendous unexpected call-back is just one of many laugh out loud moments on show. Ferrell’s funnyman credentials have always been impressive – but Wahlberg shows real comic chops here too.
Police Academy (1984)
The whole beloved crew come together for the first time in this original outing of the long-running, box office conquering franchise. And it’s glorious.
Long before the series jumped the shark and had the team head over to Russia for some reason, the colourful cast of characters retain a sense of excitable, giddy tomfoolery. There’s cheerful everyman Mahoney; gentle giant Hightower; unhinged gun-nut Tackleberry and – best of all – Michael Winslow’s elastic-faced, sound effect spewing, human beatbox prankster. Silly in all the right ways.