The buddy cop movie is a staple of cinema, particularly when it comes to comedy. Even the more serious buddy cop movies like 48 Hrs. pair a comedic player (Eddie Murphy) with a more seasoned, serious one (Nick Nolte). There’s just something about the mismatched concept that can be toyed with so much that, before audiences knew it, there were a slew of films of the subgenre nearly as solid as 48 Hrs.
Fortunately for Netflix US subscribers, there are quite a few buddy cop comedy films on the streamer for film fans to enjoy. From ’80s minor classics to more modern, high-budget takes on the subgenre (including a Netflix original or two), these are the best comedies on Netflix that feature an unlikely pairing where at least one of them is a law enforcer.
13 The Other Guys (2010)
One of Will Ferrell’s funnier movies, The Other Guys pairs the SNL vet with Mark Wahlberg, which would prove successful enough to lead to not one but two Daddy’s Home films (neither of which hold a candle to The Other Guys). The former portrays Allen Gamble, a mild-mannered, desk-bound cop who has some sort of unidentifiable aura when it comes to women. Then there’s Wahlberg’s hot-headed Terry Hoitz, a beat cop with dreams for more. They get the chance to crack a huge case when a money laundering scheme rears its green head.
Hilarious Comedy Paired With Intriguing Mystery
Ferrell and Wahlberg have terrific chemistry, and the freshness of their pairing alone is nearly enough to allow The Other Guys to soar. But there’s also a fairly compelling mystery at the core. Moreover, there are standout supporting performances from Eva Mendes and Michael Keaton (not to mention a hysterical cameo from both Dwayne Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson).
12 K-9 (1989)
Before there was Chuck Norris in Top Dog and the same year as the slightly less successful Turner & Hooch, there was K-9, led by James Belushi. The cute movie features the younger Belushi as Detective Michael Dooley, who gets a new partner in a drug-sniffing police pup. When they’re not fussing with each other and causing bar fights, they’re on the hunt for the drug kingpin who’s put a bounty on Dooley’s head.
The Superior Movie About Man’s Best Friend
Turner & Hooch certainly has its fans, but it’s not nearly as solid as Tom Hanks’ presence on the poster might lead one to believe. The inverse can be said of the Jim Belushi-led K-9, which coasts on solid production values, fun supporting performances from the likes of Modern Family‘s Ed O’Neill, and an endearing relationship between the cop and the pup. Just don’t expect to remember much of it afterward.
11 Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
Martin Brest’s Beverly Hills Cop surpassed all odds and became the highest-grossing domestic release of 1984, which is quite impressive considering it was the calendar year that also included Ghostbusters, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Gremlins, and The Karate Kid. But it’s all down to Eddie Murphy’s star power. Fresh off of (essentially saving) Saturday Night Live, Murphy was on top of the world, and Beverly Hills Cop cemented that position.
1984’s Biggest Box-Office Hits
Originally slated to be a Sylvester Stallone vehicle, thank goodness Beverly Hills Cop turned out how it did. Not only is it stone-cold one of the ’80s funniest and most energetic comedies, but it also features quite a few action sequences (and a banana in a tailpipe) that have a way of sticking in one’s mind. All in all, it’s one of 1984’s best films, regardless of genre.
10 Dredd (2012)
Release Date September 7, 2012
Director Pete Travis
A forgotten adaptation that deserves more love, Dredd is 95 minutes of bone-crunching fistfights and tight-quarters firefights. Set in a single massive apartment complex, the narrative follows Judges Dredd (Karl Urban) and Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) as they ascend floor by floor in search of ‘Ma-Ma’ (a scene-stealing Lena Headey). On each of those floors are her gun-toting goons with bad attitudes to match their weaponry.
An Action Romp that Scratches the Itch for Intelligence
The script by Alex Garland (28 Days Later, Ex Machina) is a cut above one’s average action flick. With the help of Garland’s impressive pedigree, it’s smart without being preachy and breezy without being vapid, and there’s not one scene where the viewer will question the casting of Urban, Thirlby, and Headey. Not to mention, visually, it does quite a bit with a modest budget.
9 Spenser Confidential (2020)
Mark Wahlberg has been starring in direct-to-streaming movies left and right, and like the remainder, Spenser Confidential isn’t a classic, but it passes the time well. The film stars Wahlberg as a former cop who teams up with his roommate (Winston Duke) to investigate the murder of his former captain. And, to make matters more complicated, he was fired for punching out the newly-deceased captain.
Chemistry that Goes a Long Way
As far as action and comedy go, Spenser Confidential does well with the former and less so with the latter. However, Wahlberg and Duke have terrific chemistry, and Peter Berg’s direction is as airtight as usual. So, in other words, there are certainly worse movies to spend two hours with. That said, if there’s a sequel, here’s hoping it makes better use of Iliza Shlesinger.
8 Bon Cop, Bad Cop (2006)
Bon Cop, Bad Cop follows two officers, one from Ontario and the other from Quebec, who are paired against their will to solve a murder. Before long, even if the pair never see eye to eye, they can see the opportunity to work together and take down a serial killer. Bon Cop, Bad Cop is as packed with visceral action sequences as it is one-liners.
Perfect Levels of Humor and Action
With stylish cinematography and a snappy screenplay, Bon Cop, Bad Cop makes for a fun addition to international action movie night. The film has the genre-balancing of a Luc Besson film, and that works as well for it as the performances from Colm Feore (who American audiences will recognize from films like The Amazing Spider-Man 2) and Patrick Huard. So, it makes sense the film got a sequel 11 years later.
7 R.I.P.D. (2013)
Release Date July 18, 2013
Robert Schwentke wasn’t unfamiliar with adapting comic properties when he directed R.I.P.D., given his previous film was the much more successful Red back in 2010. But, watching it, one would be forgiven for thinking he was. For the younger audience members, it could prove to have its merits. The plot follows a recently slain cop (Ryan Reynolds) as he learns that not even death can keep him from duty, but at least now he has a shot at taking down his killer.
For Fans of Toilet Humor
R.I.P.D. is Men in Black if the fear factor were decreased as was the realism, to an even greater extent than it already was with that 1997 fan favorite. In those elements’ place are poop and fart jokes, which oddly enough will probably only work for those below the film’s MPA bar of PG-13. But for those who can get on its wavelength, there’s enjoyment to be had in the R.I.P.D.
6 The Nice Guys (2016)
Easily one of the best action comedies of the past 20 years, Shane Black’s The Nice Guys follows private detective Holland March (Ryan Gosling) and professional enforcer Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe, his best performance and role in years) as they drive through 1977 Los Angeles in search of Amelia Kuttner (Margaret Qualley), the daughter of a Justice Department official (Kim Basinger). But, they may find that the official is into far more than she lets on, and her interests don’t just involve her daughter’s safety. In fact, they may not involve her daughter’s safety at all.
A Truly Brilliant and Criminally Underseen Comedy
Shane Black directed what may very well be his masterpiece with The Nice Guys, one of the ultimate films to show off incredible cast chemistry. In the case of Black’s film, it’s not just between Russell Crowe’s detective and Ryan Gosling’s private detective, but the detective’s daughter as well (Angourie Rice). It’s a character-focused work with a perfectly recreated ’70s L.A. and a compelling mystery hidden within.
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5 Bright (2017)
Release Date December 22, 2017
Bright is one of the more successful original films Netflix has under its belt, at least in terms of viewership. The narrative follows two cops, one human (Will Smith) and one orc (Joel Edgerton), as they seek to protect a high-value target female elf (Lucy Fry). But, in order to do so, they’ll have to put their cultural differences and disputes in their cruiser’s rearview mirror.
Will Smith Is Endlessly Watchable
While critics weren’t enamored with David Ayer’s sci-fi actioner, audiences got a kick out of it. It’s easy to see why, as it’s a film with game performances, solid action sequences, and mostly successful world-building. Time will tell if it was successful enough to warrant a sequel.
4 The Happytime Murders (2018)
Brian Henson, son of The Muppets maestro Jim Henson, created something very different (albeit similar in one major way) from his father’s work in The Happytime Murders. The film features Melissa McCarthy as Detective Connie Edwards, a human paired with a fellow detective who just so happens to be a puppet. They live in a world of cohabitation, but as their currently-investigated murder proves, it’s not exactly a peaceful cohabitation.
For Those Who Like Their Movies on the Quirky Side
While The Happytime Murders was far from a critical darling, it has cult favorite written all over it. With excellent puppetry and a litany of R-rated jokes, it’s solid midnight entertainment for those looking to check their mind at the door. Not to mention, McCarthy has so much fun.
3 Coffee & Kareem (2020)
Coffee & Kareem follows police officer James Coffee (The Office‘s Ed Helms), who is in a loving new relationship, even if her son isn’t quite so enamored with the addition to their family. But, when the boy witnesses a murder, he’s kidnapped by a corrupt cop, and it’s up to Coffee to both set things right and prove himself. So, he’s not quite John McClane.
A Broadly Appealing Little Adventure
As a narrative, Coffee & Kareem doesn’t go anywhere new. But, in a playing-in-the-background Sunday afternoon movie kind of way, it’s an unassuming and gamely-acted piece of entertainment with highlight supporting performances from Taraji P. Henson and Betty Gilpin. In other words, it fits in well with Netflix’s original content lineup.
2 Day Shift (2022)
Day Shift tells the story of Jamie Foxx’s Bud Jablonski, vampire hunter. He’s been ostracized from the official organization for his rough-and-tumble methods, but he’s given one last chance provided the studious but desk-bound Seth (Dave Franco) tags along and reports back. But, as becomes apparent, one or both of them need to change a bit if this is going to work.
Action, Chemistry, Humor, and Style Combined
A movie with style to spare, Day Shift has fluid action sequences that are exciting with or without the mostly solid jokes. Furthermore, Foxx and Franco have strong chemistry while Steve Howey and Scott Adkins are total scene stealers as a pair of rival slayers. All in all, Day Shift is a stylish and well-paced genre-blender.
1 Who Killed Santa? A Murderville Murder Mystery (2022)
Murderville is a Netflix original show that has Will Arnett (barely) inhabit the character of Detective Terry Seattle. In each episode, a famous personality enters Seattle’s world, playing themselves and assisting him in solving a murder. There are always three suspects, and those three suspects are always quite odd (just not as odd as Terry Seattle, who let his murdered partner’s pet rabbit starve to death as some sort of backward memory honoring).
A Star-Studded Special Episode
Who Killed Santa? A Murderville Murder Mystery does not have the runtime of a feature-length film. But, with constant sparring between Jason Bateman and Will Arnet, and the cameos from Sean Hayes, Maya Rudolph, Santa, and Pete Davidson, it’s as star-studded as any prime release date studio comedy. It’s also just as funny, if not more so than the vast majority of the (very few) theatrical studio comedies released throughout the past five years.