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Starsky and Hutch /

Rated: PG-13

Starring: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Snoop Dogg, Vince Vaughn, Fred Williamson

Directed by: Todd Phillips

Produced by: William Blinn, Stuart Cornfeld, Akiva Goldsman, Alan Riche, Tony Ludwig
Written by: Scott Armstrong, Thomas Lennon, Ben Garant, Todd Phillips, Stevie Long, John O'Brien
Distributor: Touchtone Pictures


     The spoof is a hard type of film to master. Generally, a director will try to mock too many aspects of their subject, resulting in an unfunny and intolerable disaster. Starsky and Hutch, a half-successful confection from director Todd Phillips, is enjoyable for most of its running-length, but is never entirely successful. The problem here is not the one that faults the typical spoof, but rather, just the opposite. Starsky and Hutch is lacking in material, albeit abundant in inspiration. It, really, could’ve been the perfect throwback to the terribly hysterical old sitcom in which it is based upon. Instead, it is a partial misfire. Still, though, it’s pretty damn funny. Not a single viewer, young or old, will be able to ignore this very fact.

     For those who never watched the show on television around thirty years ago, a brief plot-synopsis of the film is required. David Starsky (Ben Stiller) is a dopey policeman, who thinks that he’s an expert at what he does. He spends his days trying to chase down supposed criminals, who have only stolen a few dollars, and ignoring those who have committed serious crimes. Starsky can’t quite ever correctly do his job, even though he tries to the best of his abilities. Ken “Hutch” Hutchinson (Owen Wilson), another cop, creates plans to nail hardcore bad guys on the streets. The only problem is he can’t do it without creating uproar, and ultimately failing in his missions. Their captain, Doby (Fred Williamson), is disappointed in their work. He decides he will punish the two, by sticking them together. At first, the partnership feels awkward. But before long, Starsky and Hutch are able to share one common ground—bad police work—allowing them to form a dynamic duo.

     The two partners are assigned to a murder case, leading them to try to bust Reese Feldman (Vince Vaughn). Feldman has created a revolutionary type of cocaine, which cannot be detected by any police dog or even the standard laboratory. He intends to sell it to many diverse buyers, who are willing to shell out astronomical amounts of cash, just to get their hands on the wondrous product. Starsky and Hutch are hot on Feldman’s tale, but not without their clumsiness will they be able to convict and arrest him. After all, the story takes place in the seventies, the era of stoners, disco, and flashing lights. How could anyone not be in a daze?

     This is Stiller and Wilson’s sixth collaboration together, and I couldn’t be happier about their pairing here. In teaming up so frequently, the two are able to establish a distinct chemistry, and complement each other. Stiller develops a wacky personality, while Wilson works in mastering a cool, collected, and subtle one. From the moment I saw the cast lineup for Starsky and Hutch, I almost knew it would be a god-given creation. One may suspect that, by the average rating I’ve given it, this did not ream to be true. In many ways, such proves to be the case. However, in others, it doesn’t, and these represent the few aspects which save the picture on the whole. The cast is one of these factors; the fantastic lineup fits perfectly into the equation that is the film.

     Director Phillips, who was behind last year’s frat-house comedy Old School, should be responsible for taking much of the blame for the movie’s faults, even though some of his work is masterful. He has no sense of tone or pacing, but does have a beautiful vision. Aesthetically, Starsky and Hutch succeeds beyond belief. I loved it when Phillips used old-school style green-screen effects during some scenes, sending the audience right back into the era of the TV show.

     Starsky and Hutch is, essentially, a dubious concoction, but so what? Painted with bright colors and soaked in a funky mood, it is a spectacularly memorable effort, even if it may be flawed.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews

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