[MOVIE REVIEW]‘Starsky & Hutch’ needs more SnoopThe U.S. television show “Starsky & Hutch,” about two cops and their red Ford Gran Torino, was cool in its day ― in the 1970s. But as a wise person once said, the only constant is change. And while remakes of ’70s movies and TV shows can be ubercool (witness the Samuel L. Jackson version of “Shaft”), this one is decidedly not.
The movie has its moments. But bad hair, bad acting and old-fashioned sensibilities conspire to bring about its demise.
Bad hair appears throughout, making one of its first appearances on the head of Starsky (Ben Stiller). Uptight Starsky is a cop who insists that his passengers wear seat belts (and this in the 1970s, when it was still legal not to), and who will chase down a suspect and destroy private property to retrieve a purse with less then $5 in it.
Hutch (Owen Wilson), in the same precinct, has a thing for robbing bookies ― in the name of going undercover, or so he says when he’s caught. Their captain (Fred Williamson) decides they deserve each other, and makes them partners.
While on patrol, they come across a dead body floating off a pier. Hutch suggests that they push it back out to sea so they won’t have to deal with the paperwork, but Starsky, of course, won’t have it. The body leads to the partners’ first real case, an investigation of a cocaine kingpin (Vince Vaughn).
“Starsky & Hutch” is Stiller and Wilson’s sixth movie together, starting with the 1996 “Cable Guy.” Stiller seems to be taking his role a little too seriously.
Stiller is trying too hard these days, appearing in slapstick comedies like “Along Came Polly” that are aimed at an audience with a preschool sense of humor. Wilson, in his usual laconic readings, throws in little offbeat commentaries. Instead of playing off of each other, Stiller is way too frenetic, while Wilson is not quite there.
Rapper Snoop Dogg has a graceful, laid-back presence as Huggy Bear, the duo’s underground informant. He owns the movie, and acting isn’t even his speciality.
The rest of the cast has name power ― Juliette Lewis, Carmen Electra, Amy Smart, Will Ferrell and Paul Michael Glaser, the original Starsky, and David Soul, the original Hutch ― but they can’t save things.
Take the car. That red Gran Torino with the white stripe was hot, in the 1970s. Filmmakers faithfully brought back the same car. But instead of being superfly retro, it’s just a car from the ’70s (though it is involved in one funny stunt toward the end of the movie). In other remakes, filmmakers know enough to update the cars a bit ― for instance, replacing James Bond’s Aston Martin with a BMW.
“Starsky & Hutch” tries to be true to its heritage, throwing some affectionate satirical barbs at the TV series. Even the camera angles are old-fashioned, including that classic ’70s-cop-show bird’s-eye view of a car flying off a cliff. At one point Wilson sings “Don’t Give Up on Us,” a 1977 hit by David Soul.
These are two detectives who will ask out two cheerleaders, interview a nude woman, and infiltrate a party as mimes, in the name of detective work. When you think about it later, it’s funny, but it isn’t funny while it’s happening. Maybe the movie should have been about Huggy Bear.
Starsky & Hutch
Comedy, Action / English
by Joe Yong-hee