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Starsky and Hutch
2004 - PG-13 - 95 Mins.
Director: Todd Phillips
Producer: William Blinn, Stuart Cornfeld, Akiva Goldsman, Tony Ludwig, Alan Riche
Written By: Todd Phillips, John O'Brien, Scot Armstrong
Starring: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn, Snoop Dogg, Juliette Lewis, Will Ferrell, Amy Smart, Carmen Electra, Jason Bateman, Chris Penn
Review by: Carl Langley

Can I get some milk with that?
Ah, another rehash of a television show that indeed had an impact on many cultural lives but when it came to winning Emmy Awards, was just another fish in the sea. Actually, this film really does not deserve to be called a rehash per se, because the classic cop series, which ran from 1975 to 1979, had a more serious tone than what its satirical mini-me administers. Altering this retread into one enormous comedy hatched an unforeseen ticket to entertainment for Starsky and Hutch.

Yet, there is one essential ingredient thrown into the mix that allows Todd Phillips latest adventure to fall through (and it is definitely fair to call his two previous feature films, Road Trip and Old School, adventures). With a pinch of Ben Stiller and a splash of Owen Wilson, the ending concoction is too sweet to resist. These two are perfect together, almost as good as Lemmon and Matthau. They have demonstrated this in the previous five outings when they shared the silver screen together. While their roles are typecast – Stiller plays the neurotic, overemphasized role and Wilson portrays the favorably reposed character – they never get old. Without these two sharing their charisma and frolicking on-screen, the result could have been tumultuous, much like the horrible facelifts given to S.W.A.T., I Spy, The Mod Squad, The Brady Bunch Movie, and most definitely Charlie’s Angels.

When a movie has to rely on the rapport between its two main attractions, there is something stale amongst the screenplay, which usually lies within the plot. Even though all the components are here from the show, there is some new ground covered that the original series never offered: Dave Starsky (Ben Stiller) and Ken “Hutch” Hutchinson (Owen Wilson) pairing up for the first time as partners. Both are considered misfits to the Bay City Police Department; Starsky being an apprehensive, by-the-book cop (he wants to arrest a guy after hearing he may be stealing from a gumball machine) and Hutch just discarding the book altogether. The two cannot keep any partner for long so Captain Doby (blaxploitation star Fred Williamson) pairs them up. And it is not long before a dead body washes up along shore and they have their first investigation involving cocaine.

The bad guy is Reese Feldman (Vince Vaughn who has not been so cleverly funny since Swingers) who is planning the ultimate drug deal. He and his partner (Jason Bateman – does anyone remember this guy?) have brewed up a new brand of cocaine that everyone is willing to pay briefcases full of crisp 100-dollar bills for. The new drug is odorless so drug-searching dogs will never be able to pick it up with their strong-scented noses. And it taste like sweetener of course, which sets up a joke involving Starsky and many cups of coffee.

The plot hangs by a thread and there lies its weakness. For reimbursement, the director Phillips brings on board an assorted amount of amusing characters and cameos to give some relief to our primary heroes. Snoop Dogg takes the role of the informer Huggy Bear (originally played by Antonio Fargas in the television series) and garners the occassional chuckle. Amy Smart and Carmen Electra pop up as two sexy and ditzy cheerleaders that Starsky and Hutch romanticize. And for the icing on the cake, Will Ferrell, in an uncredited cameo, plays Big Earl, who gives some information to our beloved saviors, but not before making them participate in some awkward (and what he thinks is sexually compromising) positions, in what is arguably the funniest scene.

As clever as it was to take the satirical route, Starsky and Hutch almost flopped, much like its predecessors The Brady Bunch Movie and Charlie’s Angels. These two films offered banausic and one-note laughs that quickly grew tiresome. The same comes about for this revamp, but thanks to the buddy cop team of Stiller and Wilson, the 95-minute running length passes for palatable entertainment, only augmenting the “hero” status of Starsky and Hutch.
Movie Guru Rating
Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not.
  3 out of 5 stars

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