STARSKY AND HUTCH
Detective David Starsky (Ben Stiller) is manically dedicated to his job, but can never keep a partner for long. Detective Ken 'Hutch' Hutchinson (Owen Wilson) has his own career problems: his hazardously laidback personality and keen eye for spotting a quick buck are not always in order. Exasperated Bay City Police Captain Dobey (Fred Williamson) solves both his problems at once - by pairing them. With the help of Hutch's informant Huggy Bear (Snoop Dogg), the two begin to unravel a murder investigation linked to a drug consortium. All signs point to wealthy businessman Reese Feldman (Vince Vaughn), but getting proof is another thing.
Review by Louise Keller:
A buddy cop movie filled with genuine laughs, Starsky and Hutch is another ace vehicle for Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson. Humour figures pretty highly in this comedy based on opposites with Stiller playing the uptight Starsky ('my hair's naturally curly') and Wilson laid back as the lack-a-daisical Hutch, who revels in being a 'bend-the-rules' kinda guy.
This former cop-show comes out of the 70s (as did the remake of Shaft) and burns into cinemas in a zooped up red and white Torino, dishing up a dose of playful escapism that simply zings. Writer/director Todd Phillips has got the tone just right, managing an easy combo of action with comedy tinged with an appealing sense of the ridiculous. The humour is contained so it never becomes so over-the-top that the essence of story is jeopardised. Best of all, the yin and yang chemistry between the two leads makes the sparks fly and our laughter unravel.
This is the swinging 70s and the look is brown, beige and purple suits, plaid jackets, brocaded denim and floral shirts. The big band score reflects the music of the era with tunes from Barry Manilow, Johnny Cash and The Carpenters; plus there's the hair, the wigs and the water beds. Irrespective of whether or not you were around for the 70s, it is impossible not to connect with the tongue-in-cheek affection that the filmmakers have poured into the project.
Snoop Dogg is good value as the street-wise informant dude who 'lays it all out for y'all to play out'. His costumes scream for attention in both colour and style, and nothing can surprise us more than when he is sent undercover as golf caddy to Vince Vaughn's drug lord.
One of my favourite scenes takes place at the gaol, when the boys are interrogating a kinky snitch with a penchant for navels and dragons. The total disdain and reluctance that Wilson displays for co-operating is a treat to watch. Other highlights include the Easy Rider sequence, when Starsky and Hutch head out to the bikie hang-out undercover and in disguise as the most unlikely named Kansas and Toto. Yes, they also dress as Marcel Marceau in a mime double act, and then there's the final climactic scene when disguises go beyond wigs and moustaches. Good to see the stars of the original TV series, David Soul and Paul Michael Glaser, who appear in a short cameo towards the end of the film.
It looks as though everyone had a lot of fun making this load of wacky escapism, and we do too.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Cannibalising television series of the past for 'new' movie ideas has become so frequent as to be accepted practice. (Hey, what about Gilligan's Island for the big screen!?) Like most of these (Hulk, SWAT, The Brady Bunch) the movie version of Starsky and Hutch seems somewhat less satisfying than we had hoped. This is not a bad movie, and the two leads are great fun, work well together with a strong sense of comedy.
But that is also the problem: the tv series was fun but it was serious drama. Here, the affection for the period (the hair, the clothes, the music, the cars) and for this odd couple of buddies exerts so much influence on the script and the direction that we can't take the drama seriously. As a result, it's neither as funny a comedy as it should have been, nor as dramatically engaging as it aspires to be.
Still, there is enough afro hair and 70s music to bounce along with, with Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson managing to play the characters with humour but without parody, giving us all a relaxed hour and a half amidst what seems unusually innocent escapades.
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BEN STILLER & OWEN WILSON INTERVIEW
STARSKY AND HUTCH (M)
CAST: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Snoop Dogg, Fred Williamson, Vince Vaughn, Juliette Lewis, Jason Bateman, Amy Smart
PRODUCER: William Blinn, Stuart Cornfeld, Akiva Goldsman, Tony Ludwig, Alan Riche
DIRECTOR: Todd Phillips
SCRIPT: John O'Brien, Todd Phillips, Scot Armstrong (story by Stevie Long, John O'Brien; characters by William Blinn)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Barry Peterson
EDITOR: Leslie Jones
MUSIC: Theodore Shapiro
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Ed Verreaux
RUNNING TIME: 101 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: BVI
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 8, 2004