OPENS NATIONWIDE FRIDAY 19th MARCH
Four out of Five stars
Running time: 100 mins
Affectionate spoof that delivers a constant stream of good gags and features a dynamic duo of delightful comic performances from Stiller and Wilson.
Big screen adaptations of old TV shows over the years have ranged from the positively inspired (The Brady Bunch Movie) to the downright appalling (Lost in Space; The Beverley Hillbillies) and, as such, they’re difficult to predict. Fortunately, Starsky and Hutch has landed in the safe hands of director Todd Philips (Road Trip, Old School) and his two perfectly cast stars, Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson. The result is an affectionate spoof with a decent hit rate of gags that’ll keep you smiling all the way through.
In The Shadow Of A Super-Cop Mum
Ben Stiller stars as David Starsky, a career-obsessed, overly uptight cop forever trying to live up to the memory of his super-cop Mom (“Your mother was the finest cop I ever knew”). Owen Wilson plays Ken ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson, a man so laid back he’s practically horizontal. When both men piss off their captain (Fred Williamson), he decides to teach them a lesson by partnering them up. Though they initially hate each other, they soon start to bond as they find a dead body and trace a shipment of modified cocaine (“New” coke, geddit?) back to businessman Reese Feldman (Vince Vaughn).
The plot is basically that of an extended pilot episode, setting up both their partnership and their friendship and throwing in as many jokes as humanly possible. A large number of the gags are at the expense of the 70s themselves (the clothes, the hair, the dancing), but the film also has a lot of fun with the homoeroticism that the show is famous for (Hutch touching Starsky’s hair; the two men hugging; Starsky confessing that he’s “always had a thing for blondes”; the hilarious locker room scene) and the director admits that the film is basically “a love story between two straight men”.
Stiller and Wilson are perfectly cast and work beautifully together – unsurprisingly, as the two men are friends in real life and this is their sixth film collaboration. Vince Vaughn is also extremely good, nicely underplaying his character for once and there’s a hilarious cameo by Will Ferrell as a dragon-obsessed convict.
However, though Snoop Dogg is also inspired casting as Huggy Bear, he isn’t given nearly enough to do and the overall impression is that casting him was enough of a joke on its own.
Film Not Completely Flawless
There are several great gags, though the trailer spoils most of them.
Highlights include: Hutch serenading an accidentally stoned Starsky with David Soul’s hit (“Don’t give up on us baby”); the boys fleeing a vicious attack by a subtitled knife-throwing child (“Throw more knives ALL THE TIME!”); Vince Vaughn’s ‘birthday gift’; Will Ferrell’s prison interview and pretty much any scene involving the shiny, shiny red and white Gran Torino, the show’s iconic car. There are also lots of great throwaway gags, such as having the two men run down the beach in slow-motion, wearing matching Starsky and Hutch t-shirts.
That said, the film isn’t exactly flawless – it’s fair to say that not all the gags work and the script itself could use a few more one-liners. Still, the film maintains a steady stream of chuckles interspersed with the odd laugh-out-loud moment, which is a better hit rate than most Hollywood comedies.
In short, Starsky and Hutch is definitely worth seeing and firmly establishes Stiller and Wilson as THE comedy duo of the noughties (or whatever we’re calling the 00s). Now, if only someone can persuade them to remake The Dukes of Hazzard…