Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Starsky and Hutch

Posted By on Wed, Mar 10, 2004 at 12:00 AM

Back in the day, two go-getting cops took care of crime, their hair and their car like it was nobody’s business. As if the mid-’70s were electrified back to life, “Starsky and Hutch” lives again, promoted from a television series to the tall and wide screen. Instead of those original bachelor boys on the beat, Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul, Starsky and Hutch 2004 wields the best comedic team around — Ben Stiller as David Starsky and Owen Wilson as Ken Hutchinson — all twinkling and dressed-to-kill. You’ll see frightening moustaches dripping over the edges of mouths, jacket lapels reaching for the far sides of the earth, and Snoop Dogg in white sansabelts as legendary TV street informant Huggy Bear.

Director Todd Phillips did the show righteous justice. On television, Hutch was a smooth walker and talker next to the rugged, tougher charm of Starsky. Together they bagged the bad seeds with a sense of humor. Phillips pushes for laughs more than the show did, but still manages a weird mix of comedy, serious crime fighting and irony inside the scariest fashion decade of all time. Slathered in diffused and gritty ’70s color, fros and cons, the film spins a web of felonies that tightens around the drug-riddled plot. Phillips uses many familiar faces from his film Old School, like Juliette Lewis, Will Ferrell and Vince Vaughn — who, as Reese Feldman, the bad guy wearing the bad perm, dishes out that snap, crackle and dry delivery he does so well.

To heighten the laughs, characters are pushed to extremes — at the start, Hutch is robbing bookies and Starsky is by-the-book irritating. But once they get into the red machine, Starsky’s famous candy-apple-red Ford Gran Torino, their differences dwindle and the post-’70s-aware, tongue-in-cheek dialogue begins. Although he’s almost too cool for the role, Snoop Dogg wears Huggy Bear’s fur coats and back street poetics well — “Look fuzz, I got to buzz.”

You can look forward to a drawn-out, awkward and very enjoyable cameo by the original duo.

Starsky and Hutch 2004 made me remember how much I loved watching the show back in the ’70s, fighting with my sisters over who was more crush-worthy (I was a Starsky girl). With this one under his belt, I’m more than comfortable knowing that Phillips is currently in charge of reviving another ’70s television favorite, “The Six Million Dollar Man.”

Anita Schmaltz writes about film for Metro Times. E-mail letters@metrotimes.com.

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