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March 2004

STARSKY & HUTCH
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Directed by: Todd Phillips
Produced by: William Blinn, Stuart Cornfield, Akiva Goldsman, Tony Ludwig, Alan Riche
Screenplay: John O'Brien, Todd Phillips, & Scot Armstrong, based on characters created by William Blinn
Cinematographer: Bary Peterson
Music Composer: Theodore Shapiro
Cast: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn, Juliette Lewis, Snoop Dogg, Chris Penn, Jason Bateman, & Will Ferrell
     

There was a time when making a parody of old TV favorites was the "it" theme in Hollywood. It worked for "The Brady Bunch", "Charlie's Angels", but failed with "Lost in Space". If you are trying to bring in a built-in audience while making a joke of the show they loved, you really need a lot to make them laugh. In "Starsky & Hutch", casting Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson in the pivotal roles was an excellent casting decision. When playing in the same film, those two punch up the comedy level to new heights. Their comedic timing, as well as the 70s look in the film and the casting of Snoop Dogg as Huggy Bear makes the film a joy to watch.

While the TV series was more dramatic than this film, it still has it comedic moments. In this film, David Starsky (Stiller) seems to be losing partners more than the number of lives cats have. No one wants to work with this overbearing "by-the-books" cop, who's trying to overcome the legacy of his late mother, the "best cop" on the force. Ken "Hutch" Hutchinson is exactly the opposite of David as well as the Casanova of the two. He'll bend the rules, hang with the thugs, and go the extra yard to solve his case. Each of these cops land in hot water with their boss, who decides that the best solution is for them to work together. Their first case is solving the death of a drug dealer. While Ken doesn't have a vehicle to travel the streets with, Starsky suggests they use his 1974 red Ford Torino. The best reliable source comes in the form of Hutch's snitch, Huggy Bear (played convincingly by Snoop Dogg). Owner of a bar, but dressed like a pimp, Huggy is more than just a snitch. He's a well-laced snitch. Anyway, his knowledge leads the duo to Reece Feldman (Vaughn), a Jewish family man, who masquerades as the drug kingpin in town.

Throughout the film, there are references to the old TV series that will please those fans. Besides the 70s set design, we get to here Owen (as Hutch) sing "Don't Give Up On Us Baby", which happened to be David Soul's 1977 #1 pop song. Yes folks! that's how hot these guys were back then. Everything they did turned to gold. Snoop Dogg, who's making a big push to be a serious actor to date, really has a role he captures. The role fits him to a T and would make Antonio Fargas proud. Todd Phillips, who's made some hits with "Road Trip" and "Old School" knows that with parody comes a certain level of humor and with this film, his best direction comes with the actors. Having Will Ferrell, Carmen Electra, and Amy Smart for cameos added to the highlights the film offers, especially Ferrell, who's "red hot" these days following "Elf". But the film works because of Stiller and Wilson. These guys have a great chemistry together and it shows on-screen. At times, when the humor starts to run dry, Stiller will make some facial expression and then you're back to smiling again. To some, the film may be cheesy, but to others, Starsky and Hutch is an enjoyable fun ride.