Danny Costanzo (Crystal) and Ray Hughes (Hines) are two cowboy cops in Chicago who are after Julio Gonzalez (Smits), a big-time drug dealer. They manage to arrest Gonzalez, but at the cost of scuttling a DEA operation against Gonzalez, and so their boss, Captain Logan (Hedaya) orders them to go on vacation. The two of them end up in Florida, and to their surprise, end up enjoying life there. Danny convinces Ray they should retire there and open up a bar (with the money Danny inherited from his dead aunt Rose). However, when they get back to Chicago to tell the captain they're quitting, they find out Gonzalez is back on the street. They're both determined to arrest Gonzalez again, but Danny's no longer sure he wants to be a Cowboy Cop anymore.
This film contains examples of:
- The Alleged Car: Ray's and Danny's unmarked police car is beat-up and rickety (and gets "unmarked police car" spray-painted by goons at one point). When it gets repainted to look like a taxi cab and fitted with bulletproof glass, the windows don't open (this one becomes a bit more of an issue than expected later on).
- And I'm the Queen of Sheba: When Ray gets the idea of spray-painting the curb yellow in order to get Gonzalez's car towed, Danny at first accuses Ray of wanting to spray-paint the car. When Ray protests, "I have too much respect for personal property," Danny retorts, "Yeah, and I'm Walter Payton."
- An Asskicking Christmas: Appears to be set during the Christmas season, due to the appearances of Christmas trees and presents in the final shootout.
- Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Danny and Anna get back together after he rescues her from Julio.
- Berserk Button: Danny doesn't like anyone talking about his ex-wife (especially Snake, and even Ray), but he especially doesn't like seeing her in danger.Danny: [to Julio, after he's kidnapped Anna] If you hurt that lady, you'll never be dead enough.
- Big "YES!": Ray does this twice; once when he finds out Danny has inherited a lot of money from his dead aunt, and the other when he confronts a kid who's been flipping him off (see Flipping the Bird below).
- Brief Accent Imitation: Crystal does this several times, including imitating a "witness" (see Police Lineup below), a stool pigeon (see Shout-Out below), and even Captain Logan when he and Ray are trying to sign out drugs from evidence control.
- By "No", I Mean "Yes":Danny: You happy since the divorce?
Anna: No... yes! How about you?
Danny: Great. Wonderful. You want to go to bed with me?
Anna: Yes... no!
- Casual Danger Dialogue: Danny and Ray do this quite a bit, such as when their car (with them in it) is being crushed by a garbage truck:Danny: Oh, sure. Nag at me! Nagging's good! You still owe me ten bucks and I never said anything!
Ray: You want it now?
Danny: YEAH, I WANT IT NOW!
- Da Chief: Captain Logan.Captain Logan: You are the detectives. Go and detect! All right?
- Deadpan Snarker: Just about major character in this movie, except for Anna.
- Flipping the Bird: While Danny interrogates a tenant of Julio's, her grandson, behind her, flips Ray off several times, which pisses him off. After Danny finally gets the information he needs, he closes the door, but Ray knocks on the door again, and when the kid answers, Ray flips the kid off with both hands.
- Danny does this to one of his co-workers later in the movie when he and Ray walk into the station without their pants and hears a wolf whistle.
- Follow That Car: At one point, Danny and Ray get their car changed to look like a taxi. When they go to the airport when the department seizes a shipment of drugs (that turns out to be fake), they spot Gonzalez greeting a priest and a nun, and realize Gonzalez must have smuggled the drugs through them. When Gonzalez spots Danny and Ray pursuing him, he abandons the priest and the nun and takes off in his limo. Ray pulls up in the cab, the priest and nun get in, and Danny, pretending to be a passenger, yells out in an accent, "Follow that car!"
- Good-Times Montage: Showing Danny and Ray's vacation in Florida, right before Danny convinces Ray they should retire.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Danny and Ray seem to do just about everything together—they even take a vacation together.
- I Did What I Had to Do: When Danny and Ray chase Gonzalez out of his bedroom, Gonzalez takes a woman in the building hostage, and forces Danny, and then Ray, to throw down their pants (after Danny misses with his throw). Later, Danny says this to justify getting rid of their pants.
- Immediate Self-Contradiction: After Danny gets shot by one of Julio's mooks during a raid:Danny: If it's bad, you go to Florida without me.
Ray: You're all right.
Danny: Just promise me you'll go without me!
Ray: Okay, okay! I promise I'll go without you.
Danny: You'd go without me?
Ray: You just asked me to!
Danny: Without me?! You son of a bitch! Where's my gun? I'll kill you first!
- I Need a Freaking Drink: Ray says this when he and Danny are in a Florida bar after being forced to go on vacation (this is before they start to enjoy the place). Also, in a Meaningful Echo later, when Danny is trying to convince Ray they should retire and open a bar together, Ray says again he needs a drink, to which Danny responds, "We all need drinks!"
- Insistent Terminology: According to Danny's Aunt Sophie, Anna and Danny aren't divorced, they're just "not together".
- Interrupted Intimacy: Danny does this to Ray and Maryann twice; once just for laughs, the second time after Anna is kidnapped.
- Ironic Echo: "If we had to do it all over again, who knows?"
- Manchild: Danny.Anna: You can't be a kid your whole life, you're gonna have to grow up!
Danny: Why? I don't like grown-ups!
- Match Cut: As Danny and Ray roller-skate away from the bank in Florida (after getting approval to buy the bar), the camera dollies down to their feet...followed by an immediate cut to two people skating in Chicago.
- Miranda Rights: Done three times.
- First, when two crooks try to rob them.Danny: [after reading their rights to them straight] You have the right to a continental breakfast. You have the right to the beverage of your choice from the precinct coffee shop.
- The second time is when Danny and Ray catch Julio and make him recite his rights. Finally, when the two of them bust in on some of Julio's crew:Danny: You have the right to remain dead. Anything you do will be used against you. You have the right to a coroner. If you cannot afford one, we will appoint a medical examiner for you.
- First, when two crooks try to rob them.
- Mood Whiplash: In-universe; Danny and Ray are cracking wise about the murder victim they drove by at the beginning of the film, until Captain Logan informs them the victim was a police officer, after which they become serious:Danny: I'm sorry, Captain; we'll get right on it.
- Though afterwards, they crack wise again with Snake (see Police Lineup below).
- Mugging the Monster: Two crooks try to hold up Danny and Ray right after they're coming back from Aunt Rose's funeral. Bad idea.Danny: Now fellas, this is just me talking, but I would rather get shot with one of those pissant .22's than with my .38. [the crooks say halfheartedly they'll shoot, then run]
Ray: Pointing a gun at a police officer; can we waste them for that?
Danny: I think so.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Apparently, the officers at the precinct are so thrown when Danny calls for backup for the first time, they send an entire squadron.Danny: [after seeing all the cop cars] Garcia, I said one backup! One backup! You bring the Rose Parade!
Sergeant Garcia: You never called for a backup before! We figured... [starts laughing when he sees Danny and Ray aren't wearing any pants]... we figured it was a riot.
- Parking Problems: Ray uses this as an excuse to get Maryann away from her husband, telling him she has several unpaid parking tickets, and she's under arrest for that.
- Police Lineup: Spoofed and Played for Laughs. Four police officers line up in the room, followed by Snake:Ray: Number Five, would you step forward please? [Snake reluctantly steps forward]
Danny: [pretending to be an old man witness] That's him! That's the one!
Ray: Now, you have to be absolutely positive, sir.
Danny: [as old man] I am absolutely positive! Who could forget that face? I saw it through the screen!
Ray: Turn to the right, please. [Danny turns] No, not you sir. Number Five.
Snake: What the hell is this, man?
Ray: Just do as you're told, Number Five! [Snake reluctantly turns to his right]
Danny: [as old man] That is definitely the one! You bastard!
- Real Stitches for Fake Snitches: Hughes and Costanza threaten a criminal named Snake to make him cooperate with them. They tell him that if he doesn't, they'll arrest his boss and him, then drop the charges against him. His boss will think Snake turned state's evidence on him and have Snake killed. Snake agrees to cooperate, but later turns the tables on them.
- Running Gag: Danny and Ray arguing over who's the better shot. Also Ray constantly sarcastically reminding Danny of his aunt Rose's inheritance.
- Serious Business: Danny is very protective of his sports memorabilia.
- Shame If Something Happened: When Danny and Ray are trying to get into Snake's apartment, and he's right behind the door (which is closed on Danny's foot):Ray: Here's the situation. I have this gun here. I'm going to take the gun out and I'm going to shoot a lot of holes in the door. If you are standing in front of the door, what can I tell you? Some of those holes are going to be in you. You catching my drift, Snake?
- When Danny gets an idea on how to get Snake to come along with them, he tells Ray, "I will be back," while imitating the voice. Also, when pretending to be a stool pigeon, he claims to be watching Jeopardy!.
- In Florida, when asked where he's from, Danny says, "I come from a planet far, far away."
- Anna, frustrated at Danny's Manchild tendencies, calls him "Peter Pan" at one point.
- Undercover Cop Reveal: Right when Julio is about to shoot Danny and Ray, that's when detectives Montoya and Sigliano reveal themselves as cops and tell Julio he's under arrest. Cue gunfight.
- Ungrateful Bastard: This is such an Embarrassing Rescue for Danny and Ray that they maintain it was Montoya and Sigliano who screwed things up... at least until Captain Logan calls them out on it by playing the tape of what really happened.