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The 15 Best Buddy Comedies to Watch Right Now

Big chemistry and big laughs power these classics from the 1950s to now

spinner image Will Smith and Martin Lawrence inside a car in the film Bad Boys: Ride or Die
(Left to right) Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in "Bad Boys: Ride or Die."
Sony Pictures Entertainment

With the new installment in the Will Smith (55) and Martin Lawrence (59) franchise Bad Boys: Ride or Die, hitting theaters, it's a good time to dive deeper into the surprisingly resilient buddy-comedy genre. A few basic ingredients are essential: The two leads need to be opposites; they need to drive each other more than a little crazy; and they eventually need to put all of that aside to overcome whatever obstacle they face. And a little magic is required, that indescribable push-pull chemistry that’s as rare as Halley’s Comet. Here are 15 big-screen buddy comedies — from the late-1950s classic Some Like It Hot to the underrated 2016 gem The Nice Guys — that nailed it.

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Some Like It Hot (1959)

Sure, there had been buddy comedies before (Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello). But Billy Wilder’s absolutely perfect caper took the genre to dizzying new heights. Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis play Chicago musicians running from the Mob after witnessing the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, hiding out as Josephine and Daphne, two new “gals” in an all-female band. As they fight off handsy male suitors and their own urges for breathy bandmate Marilyn Monroe, posing as women becomes hilariously challenging. But hey, nobody’s perfect.

Watch it: on Prime Video

The Odd Couple (1968)

Has the opposites-attract formula ever been deployed better than this? Jack Lemmon is pure gold as neat freak Felix Unger and Walter Matthau is hangdog perfection as the put-upon slob Oscar Madison. Booted out by his wife, Felix moves in with Oscar and tidies up his pigpen to the point of exasperation. One of the decade’s best bits of physical comedy is hypochondriacal Felix as he hilariously tries to clear his sinuses in a diner. But it’s not just laughs. The Odd Couple is a surprisingly poignant movie about two guys who love each other dearly despite hating one another.

Watch it: on Prime Video

48 Hrs. (1982)

By the early 1980s, Eddie Murphy was SNL’s latest breakout sensation, making his movie debut in Walter Hill’s action comedy about a short-fused cop (Nick Nolte) and the convict he springs from jail to help him track down a killer. Murphy’s first 15 minutes show why superstardom was inevitable. His charisma, comic timing and command of the big screen are immediate. And don’t sleep on Nolte: His one-of-a-kind rock-tumbler voice sounds like a dive bar at closing time.

Watch it: on Paramount+, Prime Video

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Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)

John Hughes’ hysterical cross-country odyssey stars Steve Martin, 78, as a Chicago advertising exec trying to get home to his family in time for Thanksgiving. Problem is, a blizzard has canceled every flight and he can’t seem to shake John Candy’s oafish shower-curtain-ring salesman. It’s one of life’s great tragedies that these two men didn’t get the chance to make a hundred movies together. If you’re looking for a comedy that will make you laugh until you cry (and maybe even cry until you laugh), this heartwarmer is your ticket.

Watch it: on Paramount+, Prime Video

Midnight Run (1988)

In the single best buddy comedy of the 1980s, Robert De Niro plays a gruff bounty hunter tasked with delivering a bail-jumping accountant for the Mafia (Charles Grodin) from New York to Los Angeles. An FBI agent (Yaphet Kotto), a rival tracker (John Ashton, 76) and a mob boss (Dennis Farina) all want Grodin too. De Niro, in his greatest comic performance ever, is superb as a grump with a soft chewy center, and Grodin turns complaining into a form of art.

Watch it: on Prime Video

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)

Playing dumb has never been as smart as it is in this wonderfully weird time-travel farce about SoCal dudes who zap back in history via a magical phone booth to learn firsthand from Socrates, Abraham Lincoln, Napoleon and Genghis Khan. Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter make lovably dim heroes whose friendship is almost moving when it’s not totally dazed and confused. As icing on the cake, George Carlin drops by from the future to play Bill and Ted’s guardian angel.

Watch it: on Max, Prime Video

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Wayne’s World (1992)

The list of recurring SNL skits that have been turned into awful movies is long and ignominious. But Penelope Spheeris’ “Party on!” classic is enough to even the score. As public-access TV doofuses Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar, Mike Myers and Dana Carvey have the lived-in chemistry that can only come from spending years honing their characters together during all-nighters at 30 Rock. And yes, “Bohemian Rhapsody” is just as great as you remember.

Watch it: on Paramount+, Prime Video

White Men Can’t Jump (1992)

As a pair of in-debt basketball hustlers who reluctantly team up for a hoops tournament they plan to rig, Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes push each other’s buttons with arias of trash talk. Rosie Perez comes off the bench to steal her handful of scenes. And the basketball scenes are surprisingly great thanks to director Ron Shelton, 78 (Bull Durham, Tin Cup), who obviously knows his way around a sports flick.

Watch it: on Max, Prime Video

Dumb and Dumber (1994)

Dumb and Dumber is a hilarious showcase for Jim Carrey’s then-signature brand of rubber-faced dunce genius. And Jeff Daniels, who had never done this sort of broad, go-for-broke comedy before, is a revelation. They play dim-bulb best buddies who go on a cross-country road trip to return a suitcase to a beautiful woman (Lauren Holly). Carrey and Daniels spark off one another like flint and steel.

Watch it: on Prime Video

Bad Boys (1995)

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence’s original Bad Boys is, like Lethal Weapon, a buddy comedy that doubles as an excellent action movie, thanks to director Michael Bay’s pyrotechnic grandeur and the mismatched stars’ loosey-goosey rhythm and rat-a-tat banter as Miami cops trying to protect a witness and retrieve a case of stolen heroin.

Watch it: on Hulu, Prime Video

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Men in Black (1997)

Will Smith teams up with uber-curmudgeon Tommy Lee Jones as top-secret government agents tasked with keeping an eye on the weirdo aliens among us. As the surly, slow-burn straight man, Jones is crotchety perfection, especially when Smith winds him up just for the fun of it. Men in Black was written by Ed Solomon, who also penned Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

Watch it: on Prime Video

Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004)

Think of this underrated stoner classic as long-overdue corrective to all of the times minority characters were pushed into the background. Here, John Cho and Kal Penn take center stage as longtime best pals who live to blaze up on the couch and swap baked bons mots. High as kites, they venture off to White Castle to satisfy their munchies and end up in an epic quest that involves racist cops, a romantic interlude with a giant bag of weed, and a coked-up hitchhiker named Neil Patrick Harris (played by … Neil Patrick Harris).

Watch it: on Prime Video

Superbad (2007)

Michael Cera and Jonah Hill add a dash of bromance to this hard-R buddy comedy about a pair of codependent high school besties who want nothing more than to party with the popular kids and bag a babe before going their separate ways as they head off to college. Cera and Hill are excellent together, but the movie’s real secret weapon is Christopher Mintz-Plasse as McLovin, an adenoidal weenie whose fake ID makes him think he’s a supercool player.

Watch it: on Prime Video

Bridesmaids (2011)

Finally, a female takeover of the buddy-comedy boys club! Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph are besties whose friendship gets tested when Rudolph’s Lillian gets engaged, making Wiig’s Annie feel more single than ever. Enter the snooty, Martha Stewart-esque one-upper Helen (Rose Byrne), who hijacks Lillian’s wedding planning and pushes Annie to the curb. Bridesmaids isn’t afraid to be as profane and dirty as the fellas, if not more so. The supporting cast includes Ellie Kemper, Wendi McLendon-Covey and Melissa McCarthy, who runs away with her brilliant star-is-born moment.

Watch it: on Prime Video

The Nice Guys (2016)

The buddy comedy enters Raymond Chandler territory. Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe partner up — and rub each other the wrong way — as a pair of not-bright, ambulance-chasing private detectives in L.A. in the ’70s. The polyester threads are loud and flammable, the dialogue hums and crackles, and the sleuthing hits new heights of ineptitude as they investigate the disappearance of a young woman and the death of a porn star.

Watch it: on Prime Video

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