ninth symphony films - movie reviews

STARSKY & HUTCH (2004)


DIRECTOR  -  todd phillips

RATED  -  pg-13

GENRE  -  comedy

LENGTH  -  110 minutes

RELEASED  -  5 march 2004

DISTRIBUTOR  -  warner bros.

OFFICIAL SITE  -  starsky & hutch

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $60,000,000
starsky & hutch - a shot from the film

BUY THE DVD:

buy the dvd from starsky & hutch at amazon.com

buy the dvd from starsky & hutch at amazon.com


SYNOPSIS:
two streetwise cops bust criminals in their red-and-white ford torino with the help of police snitch called huggy bear.


POSTER:

poster from starsky & hutch
buy the poster


MOVIE FACT:
nine mid-'70s ford torinos were used in this production, including one limited-production 1976 "starsky & hutch" gran torino.


MOVIE FOTOS:

picture from starsky & hutch

picture from starsky & hutch

picture from starsky & hutch

picture from starsky & hutch



RATING:


one out of four possible stars

In trying to simultaneously present a true, yet comedic homage to the original television show and make. There are moments in Starsky & Hutch that are supposed to pull at your heart-strings (no joke) and then there are scenes where laughter is the key ingredient. Unfortunately, the filmmakers don't really hit the nail on the head as far as constructing a film filled to the brim with laughter. Mild chuckles and snickers will populate the audience during a viewing of this film, which if you are sitting in your living room watching the film on the television (courtesy of a nicely priced video rental) with some beer and pizza at your side, the film might make for an entertaining evening.

In classic Stiller-style, Ben Stiller creates a character which possesses a fine wardrobe and hilarious sense of hair, but whose entire comedic effort is based on only one or two real jokes. Recycled endlessly in various increasingly lame forms, Stiller attempts to convince the audience that his one-joke persona is worth the time involved in viewing a feature length film. At this, Stiller usually fails and it falls upon Owen Wilson to pick up the incredible amount of slack. Which isn't usually a stretch for Wilson as he ultimately becomes the more natural and entertaining portion of the comedic duo.

As their characters are based on a pair of highly popular 1970's television personas, it is only natural that audiences would try to compare Stiller and Wilson's efforts to the original "Starsky & Hutch" television series that aired from 1975 to 1979. But what the filmmakers seem to have tried to attempt in this film is a crossing of a true homage to the original and a spoofing of it, though never attempting to stretch the story and characters into something newly hilarious or creative.

Creating an homage to a beloved film or television series is a fine ambition, but somewhere in honoring the original, the new version must find some new ground to tread in order to keep the material fresh and the audience on their toes. The truly devoted might fine solace in Starsky's famed mid-1970's Gran Torino rolling down the avenue in nearly every scene (it certainly is a beautiful car), but an automobile can hardly fill the void in this film where the jokes should have been stashed. Well, perhaps if the car could speak, it would be a different story. But then, this film would indeed be a different story if that were the case (and this would be a different remake, obviously).

In the usual vein of comedies that star Ben Stiller, it's probably more than a stretch to require of a film of this caliber a swiftly moving plot and hilariously delivered jokes. Starsky & Hutch just moves along at a snail's pace, twisting and turning in exactly the direction you might figure it would take. Predictability regarding plot far from dooms a film if the audience doesn't have a chance to focus on the plot due to a good amount snappy jokes being thrown at them in every scene. But every scene in this film isn't funny.

Some of the jokes are thrown out there and just go splat. And then there's the few strange cuts and edits the filmmakers made ostensibly to tidy up the running time or comedic flat spots (they seem to have missed a few dozen there) which make the plot seem of such secondary importance. Actually, the plot seem to have been the last concern on anybody's mind, as there are specific interactions between certain cast members which would have been precipitated by a prior scene that seems to have been dumped off the face of the earth. It is not difficult to connect the simple dots lining this film, but this scene (which I won't describe so as not to ruin key plot happenings) is one of the final scenes and needed more of a set-up.

Although both Stiller and Wilson have their comedic ups and downs (though Wilson is certainly the more entertaining of the two), supporting actor Snoop Dogg seems to have been born to play the role of "Huggy Bear," a pimp-dressing pseudo-gangster police-informer type with a penchant for Cadillac vehicles and fine grass. Though it is perhaps unfortunate that all of the roles in the film belonging to women paint the female half of the species in a very dimwitted and misogynistic light. Namely Juliette Lewis, who is insultingly cast as Vince Vaughn's flighty girlfriend (what is an actress with her level of talent doing in such a horrid role?).

The technical aspects of the film are quite suitable, with the horrid clothing and hair-styles of the 1970's recreated in most instances without fault. Though some of the hair styles could have been shaggier (for the men) and more feathered (for the women), perhaps Stiller's creepy bouffant makes up for the hit-or-miss situation regarding the wigs. Perhaps one should admire the actor for having the courage to parade around town with a hair-style that would scare small children.

At the heart of Starsky & Hutch is a duo of performances from two actors who obviously loved the original series, and through the filmmakers' efforts in set-design, costuming, and cinematography, the slick world of the neurotic David Starsky and the free-wheeling Ken Hutchinson is faithfully recreated. The film has some funny jokes and some scenes that might approach a few comedic high points, but nothing in the film really leaps off the screen. A suitable homage it is, but a hilarious film it is not.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.


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