STARSKY AND HUTCH
Review by Gordon Justesen
Stars: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn, Juliette Lewis, Snoop Dogg
Director: Todd Phillips
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Studio: Warner Bros.
Features: See Review
Length: 100 Minutes
Release Date: July 20, 2004
like your Lincoln.”
a ’76. Won’t be out ‘til next year. But I know some people that know some
people that robbed some people.”
With just about
every popular TV series from the past three decades being remade into a big
screen release, it seems as though the iconic 70s cop show Starsky and Hutch should’ve been remade years ago. One could
assume that either no one wanted to go near the possibility of a movie version,
feeling that it could never be taken seriously. How, then, would Bay City’s
most eccentric cop duo ever see the light of day on the big screen?
It would seem that
the only way to go about making the show into a movie would be to sort of spoof
it. Thankfully, director Todd Phillips (Old
School, Road Trip) took that notion into account. With the casting of Ben
Stiller and Owen Wilson, it was clear that the comic route was the only way to
go. It’s precisely what makes Starsky
and Hutch one of the better and brighter TV show updates. Much in the spirit
of both of The Brady Bunch movies,
it’s both a celebration of the show, as well as an unapologetic lampoon of
just about everything the show exploited, including all of tired clichés that
find their way into every cop movie.
The setting is that
of Bay City at some point in the 70s. Stiller and Wilson star, in what was
reportedly their sixth movie together, in the lead roles of cops David Starsky
and Ken Hutchinson. Where as the show began with the two working as partners
from the start, the movie reveals how they were possibly assigned together to
Starsky is an
uptight, but very dedicated street cop whose extreme by-the-book methods
aren’t sitting well with Capt. Dobey (Fred Williamson). Hutch, on the other
hand, seems to play by his own rules. Usually dealing in undercover work, Hutch
works his way through numerous bank robbing gangs, not to make a bust per se,
but to get what he can since he feels he isn’t getting paid a lot in the first
place. Needless to say, Hutch’s shady actions aren’t sitting well with the
Feeling as if they
were really meant for each other, the captain assigns them as partners. The
latest case they find themselves upon is the discovery of a dead body which
washed up ashore in the bay. Their clues lead their suspicions to that of Reese
Feldman (Vince Vaughn), a rich businessman who also happens to double as a major
coke distributor. He’s even developed a revolutionary form of cocaine; one
which has a sweet taste to it and can’t be detected by police dogs.
In between the drug
deal case, which would possibly serve as something of a traditional plot
scenario for an S&H TV episode, are some hysterically funny moments. Many of
them include appearances from some surprise guest appearances.
One scene involves
a visit to a prison, where a possible connection of Reese’s (Will Ferrell)
forces the two cops to do a special favor in exchange for information. Another
funny moment is when the two are dodging knives at the hand of a little boy. A
later scene has Starsky and Hutch disguise as mimes, as they infiltrate their
suspect’s daughter’s bahmitzvah, which results in a riotous moment involving
an animal (think of the headless bird scene in Dumb
and Dumber, and you’ll have a good idea of what I mean). The sight of
Hutch entertaining some women with the crooning of David Soul’s very one hit
wonder, “Don’t Give Up on Us Baby” simply has to be seen.
Perhaps the capper
of the entire movie is the two's climatic effort to bring their suspect down. To
do this, they have to infiltrate an auction, in yet another disguise. This scene
leads to a car chase that ends with possibly the funniest sight gag I’ve seen
in a long time. Those who’ve seen 2 Fast
2 Furious, which included an incredibly outrageous stunt where a car landed
on a moving boat, will most likely appreciate this sequence just as I did.
I haven’t even
mentioned perhaps the most memorable character of the original series. Of
course, I’m referring to Huggy Bear, the local pimp/informant. Snoop Dogg is
most appealing in the single character he was ever so destined to play.
Eye-catching beauties Carmen Electra and Amy Smart spice things up as
cheerleaders who catch the cops’ attention. Last but not least, the series’
most treasured element, Starsky’s red and white Ford Gran Torino, does make a
most visual impression, much like it did in the original series.
and Hutch, director Phillips has delivered his funniest film yet, in the
wake of the good but slightly overrated Old
School. With Stiller, Wilson, and Vince Vaughn all in supreme game mode,
this tribute/spoof of the popular TV show adds up to what is very much one of
the best comedy offerings of the year.
BONUS: Paul Michael
Glaser and David Soul, the original Starsky and Hutch, pop up in the movie’s
anamorphic transfer is nothing short of astonishing, resulting in one of the
year’s best looking releases! Not since Boogie
Nights has a movie conveyed the look and feel of the 70s to a full effect.
Like the time period itself the movie is high on style, and every scene is given
a terrific level of detail in terms of crisp imagery and all around clarity.
Colors are especially a true highpoint, appearing as lush and natural as
anything you’ll ever see on the screen. Not a single flaw of any sort
detected. The presentation is absolutely stunning to look at.
Although mostly a
comedy, Starsky and Hutch contains
just about every element to make a strong sounding presentation, which very much
defines the 5.1 mix provided. The numerous bits of action and chases, as well as
the 70s disco/rock soundtrack compilation (a scene set in a disco club is
especially effective), in addition to the upbeat score courtesy of Theodore
Shapiro, are delivered with sharp sounding precision. Dialogue is clean, and the
level of range is ever so present. An all around lively and well-realized audio
Quite a perfect
mixture of extras to accompany this release. First off, there’s a commentary
track with director/co-writer Todd Phillips, some deleted scenes, “Fashion Fa
Shizzle Wit Huggy Bizzle”, a special insight into fashions with Snoop Dogg, a
making-of mockumentary titled “Last Look”, and a trailer.