Starsky and Hutch review by Tom Blain

Pretty dern hilarious

With show re-makes you get the good the bad and the really bad. Adams Family was good; at least I thought so but it could be up for debate. Beverly Hillbillies was bad, no doubt about it. Car 54 Where Are You? was horrible. What casting director lost his job with this one? Fran Drescher and Rosie ODonnell in the same movie I wont go any further. That brings us to the movie at hand, Starsky and Hutch. Old School director Todd Phillips decided to resurrect this buddy cop show from the 70s and give it a comic spin. His best decision was casting buddy actors Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson for the comic leads. The result is a very funny movie, that doesnt take itself too seriously but doesnt need to in order to extract the right amount of laughs.

The movie takes place in Bay City/San Francisco. David Starsky (Ben Stiller) is a tight-assed tough cop. He plays by the rules with no exceptions. Starsky dresses in tight 70s style blue jeans, brown leather jacket, and those aviator sun glasses that usually signal that someone is an asshole. Hutch (Owen Wilson) is a freewheelin slacker who breaks all rules. He doesnt do so in a Mel Gibson/Lethal Weapon sort of way. He is a bit of a blonde surfer turned cop. Where Starsky is on the side of the law, Hutch is on the side of the average man and sometimes that means working with criminals. He wears some goofy letter jacket with no symbols on itand yes the tight 70s blue jeans (the style is part of the comedy). They become partners just in time to uncover a murder (or floater) that is linked to a bigtime coke deal.

Their buddy, Vince Vaughan plays the villain coke dealer Reese Feldman and does an admirable job. I have always described Vaughan as off and on; I get the feeling that he comes out as hilarious with the right directors (This movies Phillips in Old School and Doug Liman of Swingers), but otherwise he has a tendency to bomb (like Dodgeball). I think the jury is still out on Vaughan, in general, but that wont keep me away from his films, per se.

Now, Ive never seen the TV show; lets get that out of the way. It would seem to me that the set, costumes and characters are based (loosely) off of the original series. Obviously Stiller and Wilson took liberties with some aspects of how they played the characters though; Stiller is tight-assed and Wilson is a bit aloof. There personality types are standards for both actors (for a single example of both rent Royal Tennenbaums). The story and plot seem to follow the formula for a modern day action-comedy than it does 70s cop show. I guess I expected it to be more nostalgic when it came to style of story telling or maybe I expected them to use film stocks and shooting styles that fit the period better. But at the same time I cant complain too much because I am pretty happy with the finished product.

This is a film that is helped greatly by its bit parts and cameos. Fred Williamson, a king of blaxploitation who has starred in movies like Death Journey, is the hardass chief of police of Bay City who chews out the renegade cops. Snoop Dogg plays Huggy Bear, the police informant dressed like a gawdy street pimp; he is a horrible actor, but its is somewhat funny seeing him in the role. The band who performed Lady by Styx at the wedding in Old School also sing at a bat mitzvah in this one; again they are funny. Will Ferrells cameo, as Big Earl, a prisoner they press for information, is probably the funniest scene in the movie. It makes you wish that you could get more and more of Will. I dont want to spoil it, but the words oatmeal and dragons have never been funnier. The Starsky and Hutch from the original TV series, David Soul and Paul Michael Glaser, make small ironic appearances at the end; even if you never saw the series (like me) you can tell its obviously them.

With this movie, Todd Phillips is quickly moving up my list of instant ticket directors. Road Trip was not American Pie funny, but it was pretty close. The story kinda sucked but there were some quality laughs. Old School set standards for modern day comedies. While not overly complicated, or written with a Shakespeares wit, the actors involved had great nack for drawing big time laughs. While Starsky and Hutch is not up to par with its Old School it was pretty damn funny. Phillips knows how to harness the great comic chemistry between Wilson and Stiller and it comes out in a big way. Starsky and Hutch is definitely worth the rent.




8 out of 10 Jackasses
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