Based on the Fox network show of the same name that ran from 1987 to 1991, ’21 Jump Street’ starring Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill can be said to have acquired cult status among cinephiles. The buddy cop movie has a lot to offer in terms of entertainment, be it the cast, the dialogues, the action, the emotions, or the chemistry. But more than these, what becomes effective is the pace. The movie doesn’t waste time in development and gets straight to the point. So as you enjoy all that it has to offer from the start, it doesn’t feel abrupt in its proceedings. And we have to hand it to director duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller and writers Michael Bacall and Jonah Hill for it.
The movie tells the story of cops Morton Schmidt (Hill) and Greg Jenko (Tatum), who studied at the same high school and were foes. When an 80s undercover police program is revived, the two are transferred to 21 Jump Street. As a part of the unit, they have to return to their alma mater disguised as students to do a drug bust. But high school is not the same anymore and neither are they. Schmidt and Jenko are thus exposed to a whole wave of teenage emotions that they thought they had moved on from. The movie came out in 2012, almost 11 years ago, and it’s still as fresh and entertaining. And if you are planning to binge-watch a similar movie, here are 8 more like it, available exclusively on Netflix.
8. Bon Cop Bad Cop Franchise
The Canadian franchise has two movies, ‘Bon Cop Bad Cop’ (2006) directed by Érik Canuel, and Bon Cop Bad Cop 2’ (2017) directed by Alain DesRochers. The first is sequel to the second and it will do you good if you watch them in that order. The leads are Canadian police officers, David Bouchard (Patrick Huard) from Quebec and Martin Ward (Colm Feore) from Ontario. The first installment brings the two characters together for the first time against their will.
Bouchard has a knack for bending rules, while Ward prefers to go by the book. This results in a peculiar chemistry that blossoms into a friendship by the time we reach the second installment. The plus on this franchise is the different perspectives of the two buddy cops which adds to their chemistry and the overall plot. The difference in their natures contributes to the drama, a lot like that of Schmidt and Jenko in ’21 Jump Street.’
7. Spenser Confidential (2020)
A buddy cop movie doesn’t necessarily need to have cops who are working together. Period. In ‘Spenser Confidential,’ we have Mark Wahlberg as Boston police officer Spenser who is given a 5-year prison sentence for beating up a fellow officer whom he knew was involved in something dirty. But the same day Spenser gets out of prison, the dirty officer, along with a cop friend of Spenser’s, is killed. He decides to look into the matter on his own, being stripped of his badge, and recruits his new roommate Hawk (Winston Duke), to find out the truth behind the killings.
So we have an ex-cop and his roommate, along with dirty cops, drug cartels, and very powerful politicians in the mix. The result is an action-packed buddy cop movie garnished with humor that comes with the job. Directed by Peter Berg, ‘Spenser Confidential’ showcases two very different people coming together and working as a team towards a single motive. The same is the case with ‘Bon Cop Bad Cop’ and of course ‘21 Jump Street.’
6. Bad Boys For Life (2020)
The third installment in the ‘Bad Boys’ franchise, ‘Bad Boys For Life’ continues the story of two cops who have been pals for a very long time. They are Marcus Miles Burnett (Martin Lawrence) and Detective Mike Lowrey (Will Smith). Directed by Bilall Fallah and Adil El Arbi, the movie shows the duo going up against a mother, Isabel Aretas (Kate Del Castillo), and her son Armando (Jacob Scipio), who are out to get revenge on Lowery for the death of Aretas’ husband Benito. You can enjoy this movie without having to watch the first two parts but it is much more fun if you watch them and then come to this one because there are multiple returning characters.
They manage to wound Mike following which he and Miles team up, after Mike heals and is released from the hospital, with a young group of elites to bring down the mother-son duo and their cartel. What makes ‘Bad Boys For Life’ a lot like ’21 Jump Street’ is the camaraderie of the lead duos which is very palpable. The exchange of words between the two leads and how they interact with different parties is a lot alike.
5. Ride Along 2 (2016)
A sequel to the 2011 action comedy ‘Ride Along,’ ‘Ride Along 2’ is directed by Tim Story (who also directed the first part) and features the very funny Kevin Hart and the dope Ice Cube as Ben Parker and James Payton respectively. Ben is a cop while James is a detective and both are on the trail of a drug leader named Antonia Pope (Benjamin Bratt). As it is with ‘Bad Boys For Life,’ you don’t have to watch the first part to enjoy this one.
Here again, the companionship shines at the end and what makes it even special is the journey of the two guys from not liking each other to becoming best friends. And there’s no denying the tangible chemistry between Hart and Cube even in their most heated moments. Ice Cube and Kevin Hart smoothly pull off their contrasting roles while complimenting each other just like Tatum and Hill in ’21 Jump Street.’ Also, the conversations are outright funny and garnished with the perfect amount of slapstick that it shares with the Tatum-Hill starrer.
4. Central Intelligence (2016)
Real-life best friends Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart become partners in this action comedy directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber (‘We’re the Millers’ (2013)). CIA agent Bob Stone (Johnson) shakes hands with his friend from school, Calvin Joyner (Hart), who is an accountant, to use his talent with numbers to prevent a US satellite system from falling into the wrong hands.
A true-to-form buddy cop movie, ‘Central Intelligence’ thrives on the chemistry of the two lead actors without whom there would have been no fun. What adds to the fun is the fact that we already know that they are very good friends and how they are behaving with each other onscreen is an extension of how they are to each other in real life. The same is the case with Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum whose friendship in real-life is reflected in their onscreen chemistry. Not to mention we have two pairs in which one of the guys is a muscular dude and the other isn’t; a motif that’s used in both movies.
3. 2 Guns (2013)
Directed by Baltasar Kormákur, ‘2 Guns’ tells the story of Mark Wahlberg as U.S. Navy intelligence officer Marcus Stigman and Denzel Washington as DEA agent Bobby Trench. Stigman and Trench have been working for a narcotics syndicate for over a year now without knowing that the other is an undercover agent as well. After being double-disavowed by their superiors when the plan to recover millions of dollars is compromised, the two guys only have each other on their quest to survive.
If they fail to do so, it is either prison or death. Convenient enough for a buddy cop movie? Absolutely. There is something humorous in too much seriousness, isn’t it? Well, Wahlberg and Washington have a crystal clear way to prove it big time. ‘2 Guns’ is a lot like ’21 Jump Street’ in the way it handles humor with all the seriousness that only makes it more humorous.
2. Blue Streak (1999)
A different kind of buddy cop movie but with the perfect amount of comedy that only Martin Lawrence can pull off, ‘Blue Streak’ is a fun-filled action-packed flick directed by Les Mayfield (‘Flubber’ (1997)). When Miles Logan (Lawrence), a thief who had hidden a diamond at a construction site before being caught and sent to prison, is released 2 years later and arrives at the site, he finds out, to his utter dismay and frustration, that it has now become a police station.
Thus, he infiltrates the place disguised as a transferred officer only to be partnered with Detective Carlson (Luke Wilson) after inadvertently catching a thief. What sets this apart from the rest of the movies on the list is the fact that here, we see the partnership of a law offender and an officer of the law. And this only makes the buddy-cop aspect far more effective. As far as its similarity with ’21 Jump Street’ is concerned, we have a couple of guys working for the law, we have an out-of-the-box chemistry between the leads, and we have humor and slapstick embedded in the story.
1. Rush Hour franchise
Headlined by Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker, the three movies of the franchise, namely ‘Rush Hour’ (1998), ‘Rush Hour 2’ (2001), and ‘Rush Hour 3’ (2007) offer complete entertainment and at the same time provide us with an engaging plot. What makes the journey of watching the three films in order a lot more fun is that with each movie, we see the chemistry between Lee (Jackie Chan) of the Hong Kong police and Carter (Chris Tucker) of the LAPD get stronger. What makes ’21 Jump Street’ inherently similar to this franchise is that it has a sub-plot of friendship that is very much visible and is used to complement the primary storyline. Also, the maddening rush that’s there in the two movies ups the ante of the fun involved.
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