Starsky & Hutch

The remake trend continues with one of the most popular 70’s TV shows, Starsky & Hutch being the latest for a remake. Unlike the recent TV movie remakes, this time around the film keeps the attitude and look of the 70’s instead of modernising and updating it. Replacing the amicable duo of David Soul and Paul Michael Glaser are the equally amicable duo of Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson.

David Starsky (Ben Stiller) is a career obsessed, overly uptight cop who does everything strictly by the books. Ken ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson (Owen Wilson) is also a cop albeit not that he looks or acts like one, he’s so laid back that at times it’s as if he’s horizontal.

After both men manage to get on the nerves of their beleaguered Captain (Fred Williamson), he decides that the best course of revenge is to partner them together. Obviously Starsky and Hutch take an instant dislike to each other and things get interesting when they discover a body floating in the Bay City harbour – although they nearly don’t as Hutch’s first suggestion is to push it back out and hope it floats to another precinct.

Their investigation leads them to seemingly straight-cut and suave businessman Reese Feldman (Vince Vaughn). It transpires that Reese has developed a new cocaine product that is totally undetectable by police dogs and tastes just like sugar.

With the help of informer, pimp and all round super-fly Huggy Bear (Snoop Dogg) can the intrepid duo bring down the charismatic playboy Reese and more importantly can they do it before they kill each other.

This is now the sixth film that Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson have starred in together and their acting with each other is getting far too familiar. They use the same contrasting styles with Wilson doing the sleepy-eyed cool dude thing and Stiller being the uptight hyper one. How many times can they continue doing this routine is anyone’s guess, but as the old adage states, if it ain’t broken…

Other performances are not so good with Vince Vaughn lacking the villainous edge that would have given his character more depth. There are some roles, in fact most of the ladies roles, which are very shallow especially considering the actresses involved such as the couple of college cheerleaders (Carmen Electra & Amy Smart) and Reese’s girlfriend (Juliette Lewis) – why they took such minor roles is a mystery. Snoop Dogg is not an impressive Huggy Bear and lacks the wit and charm of Antonio Fargas. He comes across as Huggy’s extremely inexperienced and unfunny imitator. The only supporting role that has any merit is Will Ferrell as a convict who goes by the name Big Earl. Even during this brief cameo, Ferrell manages to raise the biggest laughs and once again steals every scene he’s in.

The comedy aspects of the film are very hit and miss and it is as if director Todd Philips couldn’t decide if this film was a full action film or a full comedy and as a result is neither. There are a few stand out scenes such as Starsky’s dance floor moves due to an accidental cocaine intoxication and a knife throwing father and son team, but beyond that the film relies too much on the chemistry of Wilson and Stiller.

There are more than a few nods to the TV show with the iconic Gran Torino being the biggest (after all you cannot have Starsky & Hutch without the red and white Gran Torino). Other aspects include the outfits and haircuts as well as the 70’s style cinematography which copies the TV show identically.

Starsky & Hutch is an okay film, which relies far too much on the two (or three if you include the Gran Torino) lead characters and suffers from weak direction and script writing. At least Will Ferrell is there to save the film at times as well as a slightly creaky cameo by the original intrepid duo

Score 6/10