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It Takes Two: Top 25 Best Buddy Comedies

From mismatched cops on a job to teenage best friends going out in a blaze of glory, we count down the

buddy comedies

Two mismatched partners — maybe one's a cop and the other's a Fed, or a cop and a crook, or a by-the-book detective and the precinct's resident loose cannon— have to work together to solve a crime. Two friends see their close bond tested by misadventures, misunderstandings and one-crazy-night obstacles. Two folks embark on a road trip — maybe they're running from the Mob, or maybe they're just in search of White Castle burgers — and encounter wacky and/or dangerous characters along the way. The specific details differ (and mileage may vary) for each story, but you could tack on the same three-word-phrase to the end of each description: "with hilarious results."

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They call 'em buddy comedies, and with the Channing Tatum-Jonah Hill double act 22 Jump Street hitting theaters, we've taken the opportunity to rank the 25 best buddy-comedy movies. There were a few ground rules: The films had to qualify as comedies, which meant a few great buddy-cop movies didn't make the cut (no, Mel Gibson's Moe-from-the-Three-Stooges mugging does not make Lethal Weapon a comedy); and we narrowed the field down to movies focused primarily on a pair of buddies (very sorry, The 40-Year-Old Virgin). So grab a friend — or someone who you can't stand but, by the time you get to the end of this list, will have forged a begrudging mutual respect for — and see what made the cut.


Mark Seliger


‘Step-Brothers’ (2008)

Plenty of Hollywood comedies are about the tribulations of perpetual adolescents. The conceptual masterstroke of Step Brothers, though, was the decision to take the concept of the manchild near literally — and double it. Will Ferrell, playing 39-year-old Brennan Huff, and John C. Reilly, as 40-year-old Dale Doback, are the Brando and Olivier of emotional retardation, going from a violent pissing contest over a treasured drum kit to a friendship that blossoms over doing karate in the basement. They're spoiled tweens in schlubby middle-aged bodies, and at each step of their non-coming of age, the actors match each other for sheer absurd commitment. Their thinning hair and jiggly paunches show their age, but you 100% believe these two crybabies will never really grow up, and even more impressive, they make it admirable —  and, of course, hilarious.—DAVID MARCHESE

Handmade Films / The Kobal Collection


‘Withnail and I’ (1987)

Some good times don't seem so good in retrospect — like, say, the destitute, alcoholic meanderings of Paul McGann's unemployed (and unnamed) actor and his perpetually soused companion, Richard E. Grant's Withnail. Part Dylan Thomas and part John Barrymore, Withnail is a self-willed icon, a cult figure waiting for his cult, which Withnail and I's release ironically provided. (Try "I'm not drunk, I've only had a few ales" and "There must and shall be aspirin" on any Brit of a certain age and wait for the spark of recognition.) The misdaventures of writer-director Bruce Robinson's onscreen avatar and his hedonistic partner-in-crime initially seem like an elegy for a freewheeling era, but McGann and Grant's bond is toxic in more ways than one. Although the Withnail drinking games and such frame the movie as a celebration of excess, it's more like a description of a time you're glad to have lived through and put behind you: a supposedly fun thing you'll never do again.—SAM ADAMS

Courtesy Everett Collection


‘Some Like It Hot’ (1959)

Nothing brings men together like running for their lives — especially when they're doing it dressed as women. After Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis' Jazz Age jazzbos witness a gangland massacre, they're forced to lay low, which they do by stepping into drag and joining up with an "all-girl" orchestra. Unfortunately for their little ruse, said orchestra includes Marilyn Monroe's Sugar Kane, whose lingerie-clad girl talk makes suppressing their manly urges rather difficult. In spite of its vaguely softcore premise, Some Like It Hot —directed by Billy Wilder, who co-wrote with frequent collaborator I.A.L. Diamond — feels almost shockingly contemporary, in large part because the emphasis is less on leering voyeurism than male, and female, bonding. As in a Shakespeare romance, Lemmon and Curtis woo others while in disguise, and then discover their false personas are more true to life than they ever intended.—SAM ADAMS

Paramount/courtesy Everett Collection


‘Wayne’s World’ (1992)

Perhaps the most amazing thing about Mike Myers' Wayne Campbell and Dana Carvey's Garth Algar is just how utterly familiar these two suburban heshers are. You knew guys like this: They dressed alike (band tees and ripped jeans), they spoke their own language (Schwing!) and they obviously had a deep and abiding affection for one another ("Party on, Wayne"; "Party on, Garth"). It would've been easy to play, or see, these two as losers, but Myers and Carvey, who allegedly butted heads on-set, made you feel like you were on the right side of Wayne and Garth's inside joke on the world.—DAVID MARCHESE

Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection


‘The Blues Brothers’ (1980)

It's not entirely clear how much DNA John Belushi's Jake and Dan Aykroyd's Elwood share, but it doesn't matter: Blues is thicker than water. When the nun-run orphanage in which they were raised is threatened with closure, the brothers set out to get their proverbial band back together in order to keep it open. Naturally, no amount of bazooka-toting ex-girlfriends or Illinois Nazis will stand in their way. John Landis' movie celebrates the ad hoc community between musicians, pulling James Brown, Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles into a story centered around a pair of white comedians to show that music can make a family of those who have nothing else in common. But this is still Belushi and Aykroyd's show, and the sibling-like bond these guys forged on Saturday Night Live and over many after-hours late nights is on full display.—SAM ADAMS

Courtesy Everett Collection


‘Up in Smoke’ (1978)

A decade into their comedic partnership, Mssrs. Cheech and Chong ground up their best bits, rolled 'em tight, and set the world ablaze with their film debut — the archetypal stoner comedy of our time. Watching these best buds (heh, heh) share a spliff the size of a baby's arm, outfox the cops, pilot a "fiberweed" van through customs and somehow still win a battle of the bands is the stuff of dopehead dreams, proof that you don't need to leave the couch to achieve greatness. Kinda grabs ya by the boo-boo, don't it?—JAMES MONTGOMERY

Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection


‘Midnight Run’ (1988)

Odd couples don't come much odder than Robert De Niro's tempestuous bounty hunter and Charles Grodin's fugitive accountant, thrown together as they travel cross-country and try to avoid mobsters and the Feds. Apart from a handful of movies early on in his career and a cameo in Brazil, De Niro hadn't much of a chance at that point to show audiences how funny he could be. But after spending much of Midnight Run trying not to blow his top over Grodin's obsessive-compulsive futzing around, there was no question he could do slow-burn comedy as well as intense, you-talkin'-to-me dramas. Martin Brest's direction hits the requisite Eighties action-movie marks, but it's De Niro and Grodin, sparring and eventually softening like Bogart and Bacall in The African Queen, that give the movie a surprising sweetness.—SAM ADAMS

SNAP/Rex / Rex USA


’48 Hrs’ (1982)

One of them was a fortysomething actor who'd gone from TV-miniseries heartthrob to Hollywood iconoclast in record time; the other was a promising young comedian, best known for playing Buckwheat on Saturday Night Live. Their roles — a gruff detective and a con-man convict — were originally supposed to go to Clint Eastwood and Richard Pryor, respectively. But damned if Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy didn't make this film completely their own, turning the story of  a cop and a crook chasing a killer into a huge hit and creating the template for the modern buddy-comedy action movie. The film may have made Murphy a star (that redneck-bar scene still makes you feel like you're mainlining screen charisma), but it doesn't work without the both of them, their chemistry and their friction — the weary seen-it-all guy and the street-smart dynamo. Just because the duo couldn't repeat the feat in the 1990 sequel Another 48 Hrs doesn't make their duet here any less impressive.—DAVID FEAR

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