Starsky & Hutch
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Todd Phillips
scr John O'Brien, Todd Phillips, Scot Armstrong
with Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Snoop Dogg, Vince Vaughn, Will Ferrell, Juliette Lewis, Fred Williamson, Jason Bateman, Amy Smart, Carmen Electra, Chris Penn, Richard Edson
release US 5.Mar.04, UK 12.Mar.04
04/US 1h45

Chasing the bad guys: Stiller and Wilson on the run (above) and in disguise (below)

dogg as huggy
vaughn ferrell lewis
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Movies based on 1970s TV series are a genre all their own, combining a retro sensibility with modern film styles. This adaptation of the cheesy cop show takes its reverential, tongue-in-cheek knowingness from the Charlie's Angels films, but thankfully avoids either their extreme silliness or the anonymity of something like S.W.A.T. by staying true to the original series. And the casting is pure genius.

Dave Starsky (Stiller) is a cop with something to prove, hugely conscientious and overly protective of his shiny red Torino. His new partner Ken Hutchinson (Wilson) drives him nuts with his laid-back approach to the law ... and life in general. While investigating a murder, they find themselves increasingly sucked into a drug-dealing underworld, relying on their informant Huggy Bear (Dogg) to catch a villainous businessman (Vaughn) and get back on the right side of their annoyed captain (Williamson).

Stiller goes the extra mile with his performance, inhabiting Starsky to such a depth that we sometimes swear it's Paul Michael Glaser on screen (it actually is at one point, for a witty cameo alongside David Soul). Meanwhile, Wilson basically does his usual goofball shtick, which somehow works because he and Stiller have such strong chemistry (see also Zoolander and The Royal Tenenbaums). They're so good together that the film becomes a sort of daft love story between them, proving the resilience of the show's buddy-cop premise.

Director-cowriter Phillips makes the film look and feel exactly like an episode of the series with the same camera angles, editing style, musical score and even story structure. The film could be funnier; Phillips seems preoccupied with getting the style right. But by making sure the actors play it straight, he achieves a much more satisfying comical blend when he dips into askew humour. The referential costumes, cameos and situations are wonderful, as are the way he twists cliches at every turn, mixing in hilarious sequences like a drug-induced disco duel, a Jackass-style golf course chase scene and a continual stream of racy (but essentially innocent) sexual innuendo. There's also a sublime moment when Starsky hands Hutch a guitar and you just know what he's going to sing.

cert 15 themes, violence, innuendo 19.Feb.04

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Starsky & Hutch Laurie T., Minneapolis: 2.5/5 "We wanted to see a funny, silly movie and laugh a little, or a lot if we were lucky. This movie is just that - silly - and does not try to be more than that. While I cannot say I ever watched the series when it was on TV in the 70s, I knew who they were and knew of the show. This movie does not try to be more than just a silly movie - and it does it well. I thought it was pretty funny!" (13.Feb.04)
2004 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall