Starsky & Hutch

The latest television adaptation to arrive on the big screen is probably one of the better ones, but that's not saying much. The reason that Starsky & Hutch succeeds where I-Spy, Charlie's Angels, and many others have failed is that it maintains a sense of respect and homage for the original television series (which ran from 1975-1979) and the casting of Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson. Sure, these two guys are playing variations of the same characters they always play, but their chemistry together is amusing. Overall, the film is barely adequate, with its near fetishization of the 1970s (with the clothes and the non-stop barrage of music) and standard cop cliches, but there are moments of brightness that appear sporadically.

David Starsky (Stiller, Along Came Polly, Duplex) is the uptight one, and Ken "Hutch" Hutchinson (Wilson, The Big Bounce, Shanghai Knights) is the rule breaker. They are paired together as partners as punishment, and instantly find themselves at odds with each other because of the disparity in their work style. Eventually they stumble upon a plot to smuggle in a new type of cocaine, and a story slowly emerges. Their target is Reese Feldman (Vince Vaughn, Old School, Domestic Disturbance), who has figured out a way to change the genetic makeup of coke (wait, isn't this the seventies?). The one fantastic casting coup for director Todd Phillips (Old School, Road Trip) was the addition of Snoop Dogg (Malibu's Most Wanted, The Wash) as a pimped out Huggy Bear, Hutch's informant.

Stiller and Wilson have a nice sense of chemistry, partially because the combination of their typical characters usually produces some nice moments. Both have scenes that mimic scenes from their last movie (Stiller is dancing in a club, Wilson is participating in a heist) that are amusing the second time around. There actually isn't much substance to the rest of the formulaic story. It's a buddy cop film and a remake. Phillips, who co-wrote the screenplay with John O'Brien (Cradle 2 the Grave) and Scot Armstrong (Old School, Road Trip) after a story by O'Brien and Stevie Long try to fix this by having veering away from the story and going off on random little diversions. It is something new, but it's never that funny and ends up padding the running time.

Starsky & Hutch is noticeably different from some of the other retreads in that it is not aiming for the sky. This is not an over-the-top action film. It is more content to focus on the relationship between the two characters than on how many car chases and shootouts there are. There are the latter, but this is a comedy first, and an action movie second. Along those lines, giving Will Ferrell (Elf, Old School) a small role is oddly fitting. Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul, the original Starsky and Hutch also make a brief appearance, which is a nice touch.

Haro Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 41 minutes, Rated PG-13 for drug content, sexual situations, partial nudity, language, and some violence.

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