March 6, 2012 at 9:08 AM ET
Twenty-five years ago today, the buddy cop movie was born.
Sure, other movies had police officers who were friends -- "Dragnet," anyone? But on March 6, 1987, "Lethal Weapon" hit theaters and the genre would never be the same.
Mel Gibson (years before his many controversial remarks) and Danny Glover played the mismatched partners, with Glover as a steady family man and Gibson as the wild man who walks into a hail of gunfire and steps out on ledges because he really doesn't care if he lives or dies.
The film, the first in what would become a hit series, earned four out of four stars from Roger Ebert, who wrote that the film "thrilled me from beginning to end."
"Lethal Weapon" naturally inspired plenty of similar movies, in which partners of many differing temperments and backgrounds teamed up to fight crime. Some also became classics ("Bad Boys"). Some did well, but turned into a punchline ("Turner & Hooch," which paired Tom Hanks with a dog). Some made such a star out of one character that they're rarely thought of as buddy-cop movies, though they fit the genre ("Beverly Hills Cop").
The concept can still work in the 2000s -- see Simon Pegg's "Hot Fuzz" for proof.
But it's hard to find a film that did it better than Gibson and Glover back in the mid-1980s, when U2's "Joshua Tree" was the hot album, gas cost less than a dollar a gallon and "Alf" was an enormously popular TV show.
At one point, a sergeant tells Glover's character, "The guys of the 80s aren't tough. They are sensitive people." Oh no no no. These '80s guys were tough, and also crazy.
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