This summer, Jennifer Aniston and Jason Sudeikis role-played a happy, suburban family to smuggle a huge pot shipment over the border in We’re the Millers. But that’s not the first time the “assumed identity” plot has been put to hilarious use. Hollywood cops and criminals are always going undercover to infiltrate, shake off suspicion, and generally make fools of themselves. Here are a few of our favorite comedies about going incognito.
Whoopi Goldberg plays Deloris Van Cartier (easily one of the best movie character names of all time), a lounge singer who’s tucked away in a convent after she witnesses a murder. Initially wary of the “sisters,” Deloris opens up when she takes over their music program. They teach her about friendship and selflessness; she teaches them how to access that deep “shoulder action.”
A guilty pleasure through and through, this late-era Steve Martin vehicle has him harboring escaped con Charlene (Queen Latifah) and passing her off as his nanny. Despite some cringey “soul sister” dialogue, this one is an excellent, mindless choice for a lazy (or hungover) Saturday afternoon.
The action-comedy was a late ’80s/early ’90s specialty, probably because it’s a genre that sets up countless opportunities to follow up an explosion with a really great pun. This mash-up stars Goldie Hawn as a former girlfriend who finds her ex (Mel Gibson, pre-crazy) as an FBI informant under deep cover and joins him in the fray.
Keanu Reeves goes undercover to bust a group of surfer/bank robbers led by Patrick Swayze in one of Zero Dark Thirty director Kathryn Bigelow‘s first features. So Point Break isn’t technically a comedy. But it is a cult favorite, thanks in large part to Reeves’ and Swayze’s glorious surf-dude manes and ambiguous tension.
21 Jump Street is TV-to-film adaptation done right. Come for the undercover high school antics of unlikely comedy duo Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill, stay for the inspired cameo by original Jump Street star Johnny Depp.