Running Scared

The thing I hate the most about buddy cop movies isn’t the cheesy jokes or the plot holes or the predictable endings — it’s the way in which they make cops seem sympathetic and likable even as they abuse people and deny them their basic civil rights. In Running Scared, plainclothes detectives Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines start out the movie by entering and searching without a warrant and then inciting violence against a suspect; they later falsely declare on that suspect’s papers that he held $5,000, not $50,000, at the time of his arrest, and refuse to give him the rest of the money until he cooperates with their investigation. They knock on the door of a Latina woman they think has information about a suspect and when she declares she knows nothing, they question her immigration status and threaten her with deportation. They call in phony tips to get a guy arrested because he’s dating a woman that Hines wants to get with. (There’s probably a lot more that I can’t remember right now, but you get the idea.)

Standard beach attire in Key West.

Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines must have to beat off the ladies with a stick.

Also notable is the incredibly tight relationship these two partners have. Unlike most other interracial buddy cop movies, in which the two partners start out the movie hating each other and slowly learn to appreciate the other’s quirks, Crystal and Hines have apparently been BFFs since childhood, or something. They have keys to each others’ apartments. It is, it seems, totally okay and normal for Crystal to walk in on Hines when he’s naked and in bed with a lovely lady, and to just start chatting to him instead of politely excusing himself. They take their vacations together. They make plans to retire and open up a bar together in Key West. And neither one of them seems to have any other real social life or family. Yeah, it’s a little odd.

The best scene in the movie, by far, is the one in which the neighborhood kids, tired of these cops hanging around their neighborhood and harassing their families, spraypaint “UNMARKED POLICE CAR” on the side of their, uh, unmarked police car. Amazing. I would so love to see that happen in real life…