Starsky and Hutch (2004) starring Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn, Snoop Dogg, Fred Williamson, Juliette Lewis, Jason Bateman, Amy Smart, Carmen Electra, Chris Penn, Will Ferrell, Paul Michael Glaser, David Soul directed by Todd Phillips Movie Review

Starsky and Hutch (2004)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson in Starsky and Hutch

In Bay City, Crime Doesn't Pay

So "Starsky and Hutch" yet another remake of a classic American series, to think in 20 years time, we could be watching movie remakes called "Hill Street Blues" or "ER". Anyway, back to the movie, as a like for like remake, "Starsky and Hutch" is terrible, but as a parody of the original TV series it works surprisingly well. It has substituted any seriousness that was once present and replaced it with some stereotypical Todd Phillips comedy. A little disappointing is the lack of any substantial storyline, but this is made up for by the number of set piece gags which litter the movie from start to finish. In a way, "Starsky and Hutch" comes across more as a vehicle to showcase the comedy talents of Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson, which isn't a bad thing; although I wish they had used the talents of Vince Vaughn a lot more.

David Starsky (Ben Stiller - Along Came Polly) is one of the most dedicated and straight talking cops on the Bay City force; he lives and breathes the law, just like his mother did before him. At the other end of the scale is Ken Hutchinson (Owen Wilson - Behind Enemy Lines) a cop who doesn't mind breaking the rules if he gets something out of it. After Captain Doby (Fred Williamson) pairs them up their first case finds them discovering a washed up body. After some investigating, they find that the dead man was involved in a huge drugs deal, transporting a new type of cocaine. With the help of their man on the street Huggy Bear (Snoop Dogg) they uncover a whole web of crimes which leads them too one of the most influential men in Bay Water, Reese Feldman (Vince Vaughn - Old School).

Vince Vaughn and Snoop Dogg in Starsky and Hutch

Some of the best bits of "Starsky and Hutch" come from references to the original series. Firstly, to see the Gran Torino again, with its red paintwork and white stripe is purely magical, I'm sure a lot of men who watch this will remember wanting one. Next is the fashion sense, and the lovely cream Cardigan that Starsky wore as well as the radio headphones. Then there is the music, including the song "Don't Give up on Me Baby", that brings back a few memories. One of the references which works, but is a huge disappointment is the character of Huggy Bear. Although the new interpretation is good and works well in this film, it just doesn't feel right having such a completely different character compared to the original.

In the role of David Starsky is Ben Stiller who provides the majority of the humour in this version of "Starsky and Hutch", probably one of the funniest moments is when he enters a dance competition. Opposite Stiller is Owen Wilson who partners Stiller to perfection. His best scene is in my opinion is where he is singing "Don't Give up on Me Baby", it's not a hugely funny scene, but for those who remember David Soul singing it originally, it brings back some great memories. One of the disappointments of the movie is Vince Vaughn as the bad guy, Reese Feldman. Although Vaughn puts in a good performance, I don't feel that his comic ability was utilized enough.

Another disappointment was the character of Huggy Bear played by Snoop Dogg Again Snoop Dogg puts in a good, enjoyable performance, but I didn't like that they changed the character from the original played by Antonio Fargas. The rest of the cast all provide good performances with the likes of Juliette Lewis, Will Ferrell, Chris Penn and Fred Williamson standing out from the crowd, along with brief cameos from the original Starsky and Hutch Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul.

"Starsky and Hutch" is directed by Todd Phillips, who also directed "Old School". Thankfully he hasn't relied on the use of over the top humour to satisfy the audience but gets the laughs through parodying the 70s. I think he made the right choice in making this a comedy rather than a direct remake, as I don't think that anyone could have done the original series justice. Another good part of the movie, is the soundtrack, which mainly features music from the era such as "Can't Smile Without You".

What this all boils down to is that I approached "Starsky and Hutch" in the same tentative manner I've approached all remakes of old TV shows, half expecting to be disappointed. But thankfully I wasn't as whilst Todd Phillips's manages to capture the essence of the show he fills this movie version with comedy, having fun with those iconic elements such as Starsky's cream cardigan and of course the stunning red Gran Torino.