Jason Statham in 'Spy' and the Best & Worst Tough Guys in Comedy Roles
Let's break down which of these badasses can actually make us laugh.
He doesn't have top billing, but Jason Statham does have some of the funniest lines in Spy. As a testosterone-fueled parody of a CIA agent, he brags about sewing his own arm back on and driving a car while on fire ("Not the car. I was on fire!") It's a perfectly hilarious follow-up to his role as an unstoppable killing machine in Furious 7, and it got us thinking about other tough guys who've gone funny. Let's break down which ones worked and which left us shaking our heads.
1. Jason Statham in Spy
Why It Works: Jason Statham got his start mixing action and comedy in Guy Ritchie's first two movies: Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. His comedic timing has rarely been put to good use since then, so it feels like a surprise to watch him cracking jokes in Spy. It turns out he's particularly well-suited to Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy's rapid-delivery improv style, and able to lampoon himself without losing a shred of his credibility as an action star.
2. Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson in The Other Guys
Why It Works: As fans of Saturday Night Live and professional wrestling already know, The Rock is more than a musclehead. He's also incredibly charismatic and, it turns out, pretty funny. Like Spy, The Other Guys is a send-up of hard-boiled crimefighter movies, but this one follows the bad boys of the NYPD instead of the CIA. The Rock plays one of the baddest officers on the squad, and his equally tough partner is played by Samuel L. Jackson. The two of them are so hardcore they chase a crack team of bad guys right off the top of a building. Of course, Johnson isn't always so reliable. Check out The Game Plan or The Tooth Fairy if you want to see him flounder on a Hulk Hogan's Santa with Muscles scale.
3. Arnold Schwarzenegger in Kindergarten Cop
Why It Works: At some point in a tough guy's film career he'll end up working with kids in a fish-out-of-water movie and the results are almost always terrible. Ah-nuld is the exception. He's tried, but he's never been funnier than when he worked with a room full of children in Kindergarten Cop. Ivan Reitman first placed Schwarzenegger in a comedy in Twins, and they later made Junior together, but Kindergarten Cop is the one that's most successfully stood the test of time. For some reason Schwarzenegger just has great chemistry with his young co-stars. If this had been made today there'd be a sequel ordered before the end of the month.
4. Mark Wahlberg in Ted
Why It Works: Mark Wahlberg doesn't seem to have much range. He basically plays himself in every movie with slight variations. But for some reason he's one of the only actors working who so consistently and successfully shifts between action, comedy, and drama. The first hint that Wahlberg could be funny was in Boogie Nights, and he leaned into the hidden talent in I Heart Huckabees a few years later. He's also done comedy in The Other Guys and Pain and Gain, but his funniest yet has been Ted, which was released the same year as his hard-boiled indie hit Contraband. In Ted, Wahlberg plays his dumb meathead routine with a big dose of stoner bro, and he's so convincing you really feel bad for him when he's just too dumb to figure things out. It's a hilarious and likable role in a movie that surprised everyone by being good.
5. Sylvester Stallone in Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot
Verdict: Not Funny
Why It Doesn't Work: After directing Schwarzenegger in Twins, Ivan Reitman produced this Sly Stallone cop comedy, which was released just a year after Stallone's failed mob comedy, Oscar. Golden Girls' Estelle Getty outshines Stallone, who has learned the hard way that comedy's not his strong suit — starting with 1984's Rhinestone. Stallone can play an everyman surprisingly well for someone who looks so much like an action star, and he's able to be likable when he's cracking jokes in movies like Demolition Man. But his attempts to turn clown have been disastrous even though he obviously has a good sense of humor. He did conceptualize The Expendables after all.
6. Hulk Hogan in Mr. Nanny, Suburban Commando, and Santa with Muscles
Verdict: Not Funny. Any of them.
Why They Don't Work: Hulk Hogan tried his best to go from world-famous wrestler to comedy movie star in the '90s, but it didn't really work out. The concepts of the movies are boilerplate-level pitch material, and definitely wouldn't have been made if he wasn't attached. In Suburban Commando, he's an alien crimefighter stranded on Earth and hiding out with a normal family. In Mr. Nanny he wore a tutu while babysitting more than 10 years before The Rock pulled the same schtick in The Tooth Fairy. (By the way, we gave The Rock his due earlier in this article, but he's made a few jaw-droppingly bad comedies.) And in Santa with Muscles he plays Santa... with muscles. Actually he's a criminal hiding out as Santa who turns crimefighter after he takes a knock on the head. But basically this is a book you can judge by the cover. Hulk may be fierce in the ring, but he's undoubtedly the least funny tough guy on this list.