"Starsky & Hutch"
Directed by Todd Phillips.
Written by John O'Brien, Todd Phillips and Scot Armstrong.
Starring Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Snoop Dogg and Vince Vaughn.
Release Year: 2004
Review Date: 4/11/04
After "Old School",
I knew that whatever writer/director Todd Phillips gave us wouldn't
In the "Starsky & Hutch" film update of the 70's TV cop show,
Phillips hits as often as he misses; in fact, because the comedy
never reaches atmospheric proportions or joke-dud status, the film
almost startles you in how average it is. Ben Stiller stars as
David Starsky, the prototypical loose cannon that drives a Gran
Turino as his "undercover" car in Bay City, California. (At
least, I THINK it's California; I don't remember from the TV show,
and the movie version of Bay City has shades of San Francisco, Los
Angeles and Miami.) Starsky has, naturally, gone through 12
partners in the last four months or something like that, and his
trigger-happy persona has led his boss, Captain Doby (blaxploitation
hero Fred Williamson), to assign him a new partner: Ken
"Hutch" Hutchinson (Owen Wilson), the laid-back member of the crew
that is occasionally shady in his interpretation of law enforcement.
The two team up, and after discovering a body washed up on the
beach, they learn of a coke deal going down involving local thug
Reece Feldman (Vince Vaughn) and attempt to go undercover to get the
scoop on the big deal. In between, they get some help from
Hutch's buddy Huggy Bear (Snoop Dogg), who has the occasional street
tip for the dynamic duo during their investigation to take down the
The first 20 minutes of "Starsky & Hutch" almost put me to sleep,
there was so little going on...the opening scene with Vaughn's
character wasn't funny, wasn't evil, and wasn't interesting in the
slightest. Meeting the lead characters didn't get much better;
you could hear some guy's Casio going off in the back of the
theater, it was so quiet after some of the jokes laid out to dry on
screen. After the investigation gets going, and the two
mismatched cops start to become a little more friendly, "Starsky &
Hutch" gives us some life; we get some more Vaughn (although, on the
whole, Phillips and his co-writers failed to give us enough of him,
much like in "Old School"), we get Will Ferrell as a gay biker
fetishist and we get to look at Carmen Electra do...anything, so at
least there's something to look at while Stiller and Wilson pal
The action in the movie mostly blows; of course, this correctly
mimics the TV show, which features mostly stationary shootouts, the
occasional chase scene or the car/house/boat explosion, the staple
of the TV show that is my most vivid memory of watching any "Starsky
& Hutch" episode. The line
"Hey Starsky, do you smell gaso--"
followed by a large explosion was so comedic that Gordon and I used
to say it all the time back at UVA. On the big screen, though,
you're looking for a good shootout or two, like there was in the
"S.W.A.T." update...but, they're just not
Wilson and Stiller have been in roughly 20% of the films released
since the start of last year, and their overexposure is starting to
frighten me. To think that there are literally four more Ben
Stiller films coming out this year frightens me even more.
Hopefully, they'll be more interesting than "Starsky & Hutch", a
film with some good comedic moments but nothing I'll ever need to
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Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard