Bad Boys turns 20: Are the days of buddy movies over?

In the 80s and 90s, buddy movies like Lethal Weapon, Bad Boys or Rush Hour ruled the roost… But what about today? Is the time of the buddy movie over or does it still have a future? If so, who are his heirs?

2. Ted 2 (2015)

© Universal Pictures International France

On July 5, 1995, Bad Boys was released in our theaters, one of the most famous buddy movie and the first film in an action saga signed Michael Bay in which Martin Lawrence and Will Smith portrayed two police friends who are as different as they are perfectly compatible. bad boys, it is also the film that launched the career of Will Smith in the cinema. But, at a time when this emblematic film is celebrating its 20th birthday and the third installment should soon be launched, several questions arise. 20 years later, where is the buddy movie ? Does he still have so much fishing? And who are his heirs?

What is the buddy movie?

The kind of buddy movieit is first of all two imponderable elements:
1) We are facing a duo
2) This duo is made up of two characters of the same sex – most of the time men – with diametrically opposed personalities.
Together, they will share an adventure or fight against a villain and this experience will either test their friendship or bring them closer if they hate each other at the base. Most of the time, for the duo to work, the production relies on actors whose chemistry is tangible and most often on stars whose meeting on screen has potential.

In France too, we are buddies

Even though Americans are the kings of buddy movieswe also find them in other countries and particularly in France where, unlike England, there have always been lots of buddy movies. We think, for example, of La Grande Vadrouille (Louis de Funès & Bourvil), Les Compères (Pierre Richard & Gérard Depardieu), Operation Corned Beef (Clavier & Réno), Les Ripoux (Noiret & Lhermitte), the Taxi saga (Naceri & Diefenthal) then to films with well-established comic duos, Eric and Ramzy or Kad and Olivier.

Warner Bros. France

A kind of “chewing gum”…

the buddy movie, it is an extremely flexible genre. You can find buddy movies everywhere and even in the drama, as long as it includes a slightly dysfunctional duo. For once, films like Rabid Dog, In the Heat of the Night or, later, Training Day or even recently End of Watch and Django Unchained are also considered as buddy movies. But, for the most part, the casual term “buddies” is much more affiliated with comedy. Very often, the pair is so mismatched that the whole interest of the film rests on the humor created by this confrontation.

… Which has always existed!

This dynamic of opposites attracting each other has always existed in literature and cinema, even if, in its beginnings, the buddy movie didn’t have a name. From the 1930s, we can find an outline of the genre in the comic duos of the time, such as Laurel & Hardy, Bing Crosby & Bob Hope. In the 1960s, Some Like It Hot was also an example. But, at the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s, these duos began to diversify and we then saw the appearance of many films which would associate a white and a black person, for example Transamerica Express where Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor play the show since 1976.

Warner Bros. France

The buddy cop movie, the real trend

This trend will completely settle in the 80s. It is the boom of the fun action film, stuffed with muscular camaraderie and heroism tinged with humor. The buddy movie is then expressed, most of the time, in a very particular setting: that of the police. A subgenus highly prized in the United States, which is even called the buddy cop movie. The partners who can’t feel each other or that the leader has stuck together out of sheer perversity? A mad dog decked out with a plan-plan family man? It is a system that has worked for a long time in American fiction but which will experience a mad effervescence in the 80s and 90s.

Golden age

Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte gave birth to the first success with 48 hours (1982) then of course came Lethal Weapon (1987) carried by the duo Mel Gibson and Danny Glover, which many consider to be THE buddy movie par excellence, the one who really invented the magic formula, the perfect dynamic. It is indeed the film which inspired all the others thereafter, the “descendants” then seeking to associate all kinds of different personalities/physical/origins and even animals, such as Turner & Hooch.

During its golden age, the buddy cop movie and the effect Fatal weapon will create the greatest franchises of the genre, which will in turn become classics with, in the lead, the Men in Black and Rush Hour and, further down the ranking, the saga bad boys. Even Die Hard will embrace the genre in A Day in Hell, bringing together Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson.

The 10 Best Buddy Movies at the U.S. Box Office


We know the recipe a little too well, don’t we?

With the years, this detective recipe has been so tried, mixed, mis-dosed and over-tried that the genre has become a true cliche, parodied many times (Fatal Alarm, Last Action Hero…). From one buddy movie to another, you can be sure to find the same ingredients and the same situations. Bet when the film duo meet for the first time, it won’t go super well. Also plan an arrest that goes wrong, an interrogation scene in good cop/bad cop mode, explosions, a crazy chase, an argument over food…

You can also bet on a shouting match around a pretty woman, who sometimes is the wife of one of the two buddies. Without forgetting, of course, the good old shouting match with the hierarchy (doubled by an ultimatum issued by the chef). Also be sure that at some point they will meet another pair of buddies that they hate and with whom they will mess with each other. And, in the end, one will be hurt, one will save the other and they will tell each other how much, in fact, they love each other…

Mad TV parodied the genre in this video where seven of the greatest buddies meet

The year 2000, the buddy cop bug

In the 2000s, if we exclude the sequels to hit films, few new buddy cop movies of interest stand out. Attempts follow one another but the quality and success are not always there, like Showtime (which nevertheless brought together the stars De Niro & Murphy), Hollywood Homicide (where the star Harrison Ford rubbed shoulders with the young first Josh Hartnett) or even National Security with Martin Lawrence, one of the pros of the genre with Chris Tucker. And yet, in this not-so-foolish decade in terms of buddy cop movies, the success Shanghai Kid and unexpected little nuggets like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and a film like Hot Fuzz will still be released, which will then allow the genre to breathe much more air. fresh – that of England!

The return of revenge?

Even if the era of the buddy cop movie is well and truly over, the latter is now experiencing a nice upsurge. The 2010s actually managed, in just a few films, to seduce the public again by adding a few little twists to a stale recipe. 21 Jump Streetits retinue and their airs of teen movies, worn by the unlikely duo Channing Tatum & Jonah Hill, were huge hits. Let’s not forget either the nice formula proposed by Sherlock Holmes (led by Judd Law and Downey Jr.), the crazy Testing (carried by the darling Kevin Hart & Ice Cube), Very Bad Cops (with Will Ferrell & Mark Wahlberg), Cops or even Green Hornets. We can also cite among the recent successes Les Flingeuses, which finally feminizes the buddy cop movie and which, in doing so, has proven itself.

If it manages to renew itself cyclically, the buddy movie cop still has a bright future ahead of it, especially in the United States where no one seems ready to let it go. But it is certain that it crosses borders less well than before, as in the golden era of the lethal Weapon and of bad boys. As for the broader buddy movie, it is doing quite well and has been tending, for a few years, towards the romantic comedy tendency bromance, like Crazy Stupid Love, Deadline, I Love You Man, Ted, trend that will certainly be found in the new part of Dumb and Dumber.

So guys, “Too old for this shit?” No, not quite yet…

“Bad boy bad boy… What you gonna do when we come for you

We would like to say thanks to the author of this article for this outstanding material

Bad Boys turns 20: Are the days of buddy movies over?