Starsky & Hutch (2004)

5 Mar

The Flick Chicks Movie Reviews critics Starsky & Hutch

Smith’s Verdict: ***

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

You don’t have to be a fan of a TV show that a new movie is based off of. You don’t even have to have watched it. I was completely ignorant of the 1970s TV cop show “Starsky & Hutch,” and watching the 2004 movie adaptation of the same name, I didn’t care that I didn’t see the show. I laughed. Isn’t that enough for a comedy? I did laugh. I enjoyed this film for two reasons—1) it was funny, and 2) most of the fun came from the chemistry between the two actors Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson as the title characters.

Ben Stiller is the hyperactive, worrisome, ridiculously-curly-haired Starsky (“For your information, my hair is naturally curly. Feel it.”) and Owen Wilson is the more outgoing, blond-haired bad boy Hutch. Both men are cops, but Hutch knows more about life on the streets. Pretty soon, their police chief (Fred Williamson) believes they deserve each other, and so he assigns them as partners. At first, they aren’t very fond of each other—Hutch insults Starsky’s hair right away—but they become friends and go on a case that the movie requires them to figure out.

The bad guy in this movie is a drug dealer named Reese Feldman (Vince Vaughn). He and his assistant (Jason Bateman) have just created a new kind of cocaine that police dogs can’t sniff or track down. What gets Starsky and Hutch on the case is when they discover a dead body near the river—the dead body of a man killed by Reese.

Their investigation leads them to picking up a couple of cheerleaders (Carmen Electra and Amy Smart, “B-E-A-U-tiful,” as Jim Carrey would say) and taking them to their apartment so they can share a funny moment that reminds us that the movie takes place in the 70s. I like it when Owen Wilson croons a single originally sung by David Soul, who played the original Hutch in the TV show. Starsky and Hutch’s investigation also leads them to a scene that audiences seem to love and got a big laugh, but for me, I felt a little indifferent. Maybe I didn’t find it hilarious when Starsky interrupted Reese’s daughter’s Bar Mitzvah party, shot through the garage door, opened it to reveal a pony as a gift for the daughter, and then everyone sees the pony fall down dead. (“Are you OK, little pony?”) Maybe it rubbed me the wrong way.

This is one of those comedies in which a lot depends on the chemistry from the actors. This is the sixth movie featuring Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson in a movie together and they come off as a really effective comedy duo. Separately, you get almost too much of them. But when you put them together, they create the perfect comic timing. Owen Wilson was in another film adaptation of a TV show called “I Spy.” That movie didn’t do much for me and I didn’t laugh much. I did laugh a lot during “Starsky & Hutch.”

Todd Phillips, who also did “Old School,” has a movie that is rich with ideas. Also enjoyable is Snoop Dogg as Huggy Bear, a Superfly clone whose fashion remains in the 70s. And then there’s the running joke about Starsky’s great-looking Ford Gran Torino and Starsky’s attachment to it. There’s one scene in which Starsky and Hutch try the impossible that always seems to work in action movies. They try to drive the car really fast off a pier to land it on the bad guy’s boat. Does it make it? I will not say. What I will say is this—I love it when Starsky tries to rescue the car. Some ideas that don’t really work (for me, at least) include the pony scene. And then there’s a very weird cameo by Will Ferrell, which I will not give away. “Starsky & Hutch” is a fun, satisfying comedy.

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