Film Reviews


By • Mar 5th, 2004 •

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Warner Bros. Pictures and Dimension Films present a Riche-Ludwig/Weed Road/Red Hour production of a Todd Phillips movie
Running time — 100 minutes / MPAA rating: PG-13

Okay, here’s my problem. I’m burned out on Ben Stiller. He’s in everything. I spotted him in the bar in LOST IN TRANSLATION and as one of the sailors under Jack Aubrey’s command on the HMS Surprise. He was Captain Jack Sparrow’s lover in THE PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN and, I’m told by someone who saw an advance screening of THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST, he is one of the Jews in the crowd yelling: “Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas!” I’m afraid to go to sleep worried he’ll turn up in my dreams.

Stiller is not taking any chances waiting for roles. He takes every role offered to him. Maybe he’s being blackmailed by the Russian Mob. And another film teaming him with Owen Wilson? I’ve grown tired of their “chemistry.” I’m happy they like each other and want to spend months together making films. How nice for them, but why not just go on a quiet, secluded vacation by themselves?

All this bias in front of me and I liked STARSKY & HUTCH. Maybe it was all the homosexual horseplay.

Frown-faced Detective David Starsky (Ben Stiller) is reluctantly partnered with “Bend the Rules” Detective Ken “Hutch” Hutchinson (Owen Wilson). On their first day together they come across a dead body in the Bay. Hutch wants to push the corpse down towards another police precinct and let them handle it. Starsky follows police procedures. He is excitable, tense, and knows his laws.

The dead man crossed drug dealer Reese Feldman (Vince Vaughn) who has found an inventive way to transport cocaine. Starsky and Hutch’s investigation take them Hutch’s chief informant Huggy Bear (Snoop Dogg) that leads them to prison where they interview Feldman’s kinky gay chemist (Will Farrell).

STARSKY & HUTCH is all about Stiller. Thankfully, Wilson subdues his overdone mannerisms (the pursed lips, the drag-on dialogue, the silky voice) and stands aside as Stiller hams it up doing freaked-out shtick. The direction, by Todd Phillips, is messy and slipshod. We kept noticing the boom and scenes are set up without regard for the positioning of the actors. The back of heads is often in the forefront of the shot. Yes, it is a mess, but somehow it works.

The carelessness seems intentional. It is part of the silliness.

Screenwriters John O’Brien, Todd Phillips, Scot Armstrong (with story credit going to Stevie Long and John O’Brien) do not tax themselves or wring their hands over an original script. If only murder, mayhem, and police work were this easy in real life! I guess there is enough Starsky and Hutch buried in our collective unconscious for this franchise to work.

Vaughn and Farrell are always perfect in roles that are tailored to them. They know exactly how to play their scenes maximizing all the attention. They are both big men and know how to use their physicality to their advantage. Jason Bateman, I’m a big fan of “Arrested Development”! Now, I hate to admit it, but Snoop Dogg has a natural, easygoing charm that translates well to the screen. I know encouraging him will only mean he’ll be doing a Broadway play next, starring in TERMINATOR 4, or producing/directing/starring in a romantic comedy.

Director: Todd Phillips
Screenwriters: John O’Brien, Todd Phillips, Scot Armstrong
Story by: Stevie Long, John O’Brien
Based on characters created by: William Blinn
Producers: William Blinn, Stuart Cornfeld, Akiva Goldsman, Tony Ludwig, Alan Riche
Executive producer: Gilbert Adler
Director of photography: Barry Peterson
Production designer: Edward Verreaux
Editor: Leslie Jones
Costume designer: Louise Mingenbach
Music: Theodore Shapiro

Detective David Starsky: Ben Stiller
Detective Ken Hutchinson: Owen Wilson
Reese Feldman: Vince Vaughn
Kitty: Juliette Lewis
Huggy Bear: Snoop Dogg
Police Capt. Dobey: Fred Williamson
Staci: Carmen Electra
Holly: Amy Smart

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