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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.

 

Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection

4

‘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

3

‘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

2

‘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

1

’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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