Tuesday 6 October 2015

Movie Review: Starsky And Hutch (2004)

A comedy action film, Starsky And Hutch attempts to both satirize and pay homage to the 1970s television police show. Instead it errs on the side of stupidity and dissolves into a puddle of irrelevance.

It's 1975 in Bay City. Detective David Starsky (Ben Stiller) is an intense officer, overzealously chasing after every last petty thief. Captain Doby (Fred Williamson) is exasperated by Starsky's inability to work with others, and partners him with Detective Ken "Hutch" Hutchinson (Owen Wilson), an officer so laid back he mingles with criminals and sometimes joins them on heists for fun. Hutch maintains Huggy Bear Brown (Snoop Dogg) as an underworld contact.

Drug lord Reese Feldman (Vince Vaughn) and his second-in-command Kevin Jutsum (Jason Bateman) are planning a major drug deal involving undetectable cocaine, modified to smell like sugar. Reese mingles in high society, owns a fancy yacht, and tries to pretend that he is an upstanding family man. But when one of Reece's henchmen shows up dead face down in the river, Starsky and Hutch get on the case and start to close in on Reese's operations.

A film which is essentially entirely forgotten a few minutes after the credits roll, Starsky And Hutch consists of an endless series of mind numbingly bad set-pieces, aiming for funny but achieving crass. See Starsky and Hutch dress up like the guys from Easy Rider for an aborted scene at a biker bar. Crack up laughing as Starsky and Hutch pretend to be mimes as they infiltrate a Bat Mitzvah. Be enthralled as Starsky chases a thief across rooftops. Laugh out loud at Huggy Bear pretending to be a golf caddy. Guffaw as Starsky unknowingly get high on cocaine and engages in a satirical disco dancing duel that was old in 1980.

Or better yet, don't. As directed by Todd Phillips, the film offers nothing beyond the obvious, the churlish and the vulgar, with the personalities of Starsky and Hutch more much more fingernails-on-chalkboard grating than funny. The film reaches an absolute low in a prison visit scene, with an uncredited Will Ferrell registering a personal career worst as an inmate who demands that the two detectives act out sexual fetishes.

In a minor role, Juliette Lewis is wasted, while Amy Smart and Carmen Electra show up to fulfill every immature boy's cheerleader fantasy.

The bright spots? It's good to see 1970s action stalwart Fred Williamson as the constantly irritated Captain Doby. And the real Starsky and Hutch, namely Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul, show up for a late cameo. Incredible as it may seem, the 2004 version of Starsky And Hutch makes the bad acting and bad television from three decades past appear stellar.

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