Movie Review
Starsky & Hutch
2004
Director: Todd Phillips
Cast: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson
C


everything that’s old will eventually become new again. Right? Or something like that? Hollywood is clearly stuck on remakes, with both old TV shows and movies serving as prime fodder. Some are good (Steve Soderbergh’s superb 2002 Solaris, which I’ve actually come to prefer to the Tarkovsky original). Some are bad (Guy Ritchie’s Razzie-winning recasting of Lina Wertmuller’s Swept Away as a vehicle for his Material Girl wife). Some are just plain inexplicable (Gus van Sant’s shot-for-shot remake of Hitchcock’s Psycho). Then there are the TV remakes.

So far, Hollywood movies inspired by "classic" TV shows have served, at best, as nostalgic diversions or as brainless fun; at worst, they’re merely brainlessly crass crapfests produced purely to capitalize on our nostalgia. There’s Charlie’s Angels, The Addams Family, The Brady Bunch, The Flintstones, Leave it to Beaver, My Favorite Martian, etc. And now Starsky & Hutch.

I should admit that I’ve seen only a couple episodes of the ‘70s cop show that serves as the basis for this latest pairing of Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson. Thus, I have little to say about how closely this film sticks to the original program. I’d guess that it’s pretty dead-on, and not just because I’ve heard as much from people who are more familiar with the show than I am. The movie plays like an extended episode of a ‘70s TV program, albeit with plenty of winking in-jokes (some clever, others less so); just imagine That ‘70's Show crossed with Spike Jonze’s video for the Beastie Boys’ "Sabotage" and you’ll get the gist.

Even with my virtual ignorance of the show, I enjoyed Starsky & Hutch more than most of the TV-inspired movies I’ve seen. As always, Stiller and Wilson are terrific together. At this point, they seem to know each other’s comic timing as well as their own, and it pays off. The movie isn’t always as laugh-out-loud funny as it’s aiming to be, but Stiller and Wilson are never less than a pleasure to watch as the eponymous duo.

It’s Snoop Dogg, however, who steals this movie. He proved on his sporadically hilarious MTV sketch comedy series, Doggy Fizzle Televizzle, that he has considerable comic charisma, and it’s put to good use in the film. As pimped-out police informant Huggy Bear, Snoop somehow manages to steal every scene he’s in.

Still, as pleasantly amusing as Starsky & Hutch is, and despite the best efforts of Stiller, Wilson, and Snoop, it doesn’t buck the TV-based movie trend. It’s a fun, but wholly forgettable trifle that doesn’t add up to much and leaves you with even less.


By: Josh Timmermann
Published on: 2004-03-31
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