The ’70s are coming back — the cars, the hair, the bellbottoms. And in that same vein, the adaptations of ’70s TV shows continue with Starsky & Hutch.
Based on the 1975 show by the same name, detectives Dave Starsky and Ken Hutchinson play perfectly into the preferred comedy genre of buddy cops. The premise isn’t new but it works. After all, since the seemingly endless influx of buddy-cop comedies — Rush Hour, Bad Boys, Lethal Weapon, all of their sequels and numerous TV shows with the same conventions — it’s hard to call such premises new. But it’s not the premise that needs reinvention for such films — it’s the script. Starsky & Hutch has a strong script that should satisfy audiences despite its clichÃ©d foundation.
Starsky & Hutch is both a comedy and an action flick, but director Todd Phillips doesn’t place an emphasis on either. It’s a well-balanced mixture of both genres that succeeds at fulfilling the promises its previews offer.
Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller return for their first buddy comedy since Zoolander; this time, instead of a pair of models, the boys take on the TV personalities of Starsky (Stiller) and Hutch (Wilson), two detectives in Bay City who stumble upon a dead body that leads them to discover a cocaine deal.
Helpful in discovering the deal is Huggy Bear (Snoop Dogg), the unofficial police informer, while concocting the blow deal is Reese Feldman (Vince Vaughn).
With a cast full of talented comedians, featuring bit parts from Will Ferrell and Chris Penn, the movie is a true popcorn flick in every sense of the word.
Stiller and Wilson have great on-screen chemistry that, at times, seems to be so genuine it could be mistaken for real life.
The supporting roles, in addition to being well-acted, are also well developed. Vaughn gives his usual, over-the-top performance but doesn’t bore audiences with a routine that has gotten old.
His style fits the character, and the character fits his style. Phillips, who previously directed Road Trip and Old School, sometimes reaches into the old bag of tricks. For instance, the band singing dirty songs at a bat mitzvah in Starsky & Hutch is the same band that sang dirty songs during the wedding scene in Old School.
But Phillips also finds new ways to animate his film. He captures the feeling of the original show by including freeze frames — which were so popular back in the day — and directing his stars in intentionally sub-par acting.
The film looks as though it was taken straight out of the disco era, with meticulous attention to detail in anything from costumes, to hair styles, to music or set design.
Those who remember the original show may be slightly disturbed that the film adaptation of the series is a comedy. The idea works well, parodying the TV episodes without losing the seriousness of the case or subject matter.
The movie is a good combination, in equal parts, comedy and action. It doesn’t depend entirely on either, thus succeeding at both. It’s nothing but a popcorn flick based on an old premise, but the execution is great and the outcome quite pleasing.
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