Thursday, 15 March 2012

Niche Genres: The Buddy Cop Comedy

Continuing with our tour of cinema's more niche genres, here is a look at the Buddy Cop Comedy in honour of 21 Jump Street released this week.

What is a Buddy Cop Comedy? A pair of hilariously-mismatched cops - or other law enforcement types - tackle crime and experience plenty of comedy escapades along the way.

Not to be confused with... Buddy Cop Action films which may contain moments of comedic banter (Lethal WeaponRush Houror Buddy Cop Animal Comedies which is a niche genre of the niche genre (Turner & Hooch, K-9).

Trademarks of the Genre: two cops with different appearances or personalities (or both) will be thrown together against their wishes; a flimsy criminal plot given no thought at all by the writer; token scenes with the criminals which are soon put aside so we can cut back to the comedy antics of the leads; a climatic chase scene; important clues or information arising from entirely random sub-plots; and a really hot female character who is always interested in the more unlikely of the two cops.

Examples: Starsky & HutchRush Hour, Hot FuzzBlue Streak, The Other Guys, Men in Black, Wild Wild West, Pineapple Express and multiple occurrences within The Police Academy series.

Highlights of the Genre: all the perks of a comedy but with added guns and explosions! Plus, opposite types being forced to work together is always a good recipe for comedy. 

Limitations of the Genre: Buddy Cop Comedies are primarily comedies rather than an equal mash-up of two genres. This means they are typically low on plot and any crime fans will be sorely disappointed. There is also an absence of female characters. Why are there no Buddy Female Cop Comedies? Get Kirsten Wiig on the case.

Best Example: Hot Fuzz - the only British example that springs to mind with a great double-act from the well-established duo of Pegg and Frost. Although, what makes this really stand-out, is the huge amount of referencing to Hollywood action films and so a lot of the comedy is generated from parodies and in-jokes, rather than the usual tired mix of slapstick and bickering. Repeat viewings are essential.

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