March 12, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 85  

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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Starsky & Hutch: the new dynamic duo


Starsky & Hutch
Starring: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn, Snoop Dogg
Directed by: Todd Phillips

By Marshall Bellamy
Gazette Staff

Warner Bros./2004
AMERICA’S NEXT TOP INFORMANT. Starsky (Ben Stiller) and Huggy Bear (Snoop Dogg) share a moment in the office. Pimpin’ coat, Snoop!

The ’70s is a decade known for its depressing architecture as showcased by the Social Science Centre; it is also a time known for its music, its drugs, its hairstyles and its cop shows.

Todd Phillips (Road Trip,Old School) creates a Hollywood retelling of Starsky & Hutch, and it’s safe to say it is an above par comedy.

The movie is about two Bay City cops who could not be any more different, that are reluctantly partnered together. Stiller stars as Starsky, the by-the-book cop who fires his gun wildly into crowds when pursuing purse-snatchers, and grudgingly lives in the shadow of his mother, a decorated police officer for 22 years.

Wilson is Hutch, the laid-back half of the crime-busting duo who comes to work late, enjoys threesomes with cheerleaders and is so deep undercover he doesn’t do any actual police work — otherwise, the bad guys would know he’s a cop.

The two team up with their pimp-like informant Huggy Bear (Snoop Dogg) against Vaughn, who is a sneaky ne’er-do-well druglord that has developed cocaine that tastes and smells like sweetener, but still has the same weird and wonderful effects.

The result is a movie with far more strengths than weaknesses.

Each role is perfectly cast; in fact, Starsky & Hutch is one of those movies where typecasting is its strong suit. Stiller makes a perfect uptight cop against Wilson’s dismissive, unconcerned role. The role of Huggy Bear was made for Snoop — he is probably the only celebrity pimp who could pull it off. And Vaughn’s sardonic onscreen personality gives the movie a drug-dealing antagonist you can’t help but love and loathe, even if he has played the same character in many of his films.

Cheesiness is one of the terrible features that dominated the host of cop shows from the ’70s — think ChiPs. Starsky & Hutch is not rife with the chessiness most sane people remember and despise from that era.

That’s not to say it isn’t there, but it’s present only in tasteful amounts where the film’s humour allows; an example is a scene which includes a dance-off between Stiller and a big-haired disco dancer.

Viewers are also treated to a host of familiar faces: Will Ferrell, as a dragon-obsessed biker convict who really likes Hutch’s dragon impression, while Juliette Lewis plays Vaughn’s “favourite girl on the side.” There is even a brief cameo by the real Starsky and Hutch, Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul, at the end of the movie.

All-in-all, Starsky & Hutch is a flick that demands little from the audience, but gives so much back in terms of entertainment value — but not in the weird and awkward cheesy way the genre is known for.

 

 

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