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For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.

(Photo by by Elliott Marks)

photo caption:
LIFES OF THE PARTY: Officer Starsky (Ben Stiller, left) and Officer Hutch (Owen Wilson) pose as mimes in order to crack yet another crime case.end caption.


"Starsky & Hutch": Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller Star in Lighthearted Spoof of Seventies TV Series

Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller have made a half-dozen comedies together, most notably Meet the Parents and the critically-acclaimed The Royal Tenenbaums. Other adventures in which the pair have both appeared include Zoolander, Permanent Midnight, and The Cable Guy.

With Starsky & Hutch, this goofy duo make the most of their first opportunity to headline opposite each other, sharing the title roles as unlikely buddies in a lighthearted take-off on the old TV series. Ever since the rise of the Austin Powers franchise in 1997, Hollywood has been inclined to cash in on the allure which the Sixties and Seventies holds both for nostalgic baby boomers and for youngsters attracted to the era's decor out of a sense of reverse chic.

So, films as far afield from each other as Catch Me if You Can, Undercover Brother, Down with Love, and Auto Focus have picked the period as an eye-catching backdrop. Moreover, this trend has resulted in a bumper crop of retro cop remakes, including Charlie's Angels 1 & 2, The Mod Squad, Shaft, and S.W.A.T.

The original Starsky & Hutch, which enjoyed a five-year run from 1975 to 1979, was a cop action adventure. Suave detectives Dave Starsky (Paul Michael Glaser) and Ken Hutchinson (David Soul) cruised around an unnamed metropolis (which looked suspiciously similar to Los Angeles) in a bright red Ford Torino detailed with a Nike-style swoosh.

They cracked all of their cases with the help of a flamboyant stool pigeon/restaurateur named Huggy Bear (Antonio Vargas), much to the chagrin of their always apoplectic boss, Captain Dobey (Bernie Hamilton). Since that formula lends itself rather naturally to parody, director Todd Phillips (Old School) wisely decided on a tongue-in-cheek adaptation, here, rather than a faithful remake.

Never taking itself very seriously, Starsky & Hutch, the movie, is set in the present in mythical Bay City, with Stiller's dedicated and decorated Officer Starsky standing in stark contrast to Wilson's happy-go-lucky, laidback Hutch. The ill-matched twosome's first day on patrol as partners in the trademark Torino turns out to be extremely eventful when a floater, namely, a dead body, washes up on the coast.

They make a visit to Huggy Bear's (Snoop Dogg) den to learn the word on the street about how the murder had occurred. "I know some people who know some people who robbed some people," Huggy whispers. The priceless dialogue is often droll like this, reminiscent of the understated Naked Gun trilogy.

His lead puts them on the trail of Rees Feldman (Vince Vaughn), a vicious drug-dealer with a yacht and an empty-headed gun moll (Juliette Lewis). Material witnesses include Will Ferrell at his funniest as Big Earl, a manipulative gay convict, Amy Smart, and Carmen Electra. Fred Williamson appears as the irascible Captain Dobey, while Glaser and Hutchinson make cameo appearances in the roles they first created.

Cartoonish but clever, with the bulk of the fun coming when Wilson's wry wit meets Stiller's impatient officiousness head-on. Sophomoric, yet probably the best of the TV retreads.

Excellent (4 Stars). Rated PG-13 for drug use, sexual situations, nudity,
profanity, and violence.

end of review.

For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.


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