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This film is very funny in many parts, but can be just a little too silly in others. The cast is great, especially Wilson, Stiller and Ferrell, who work so well together. Their scene in the jail is absolutely hilarious i must add. Also, Snoop Dogg was an inspired choice for Huggy Bear and he almost steals the show with his outragous outfits.
All in all, a pretty damn good film with plenty of laughs.
First, there is a rich tradition of buddy films where a "good" person and a "bad" person team up and overcome their differences to work together, extending back from Riggs & Murtaugh to Butch & Sundance, all the way back to Katie Scarlet & Miss Melly. "Starsky" and "Hutch" plays with this tried and true formula, mainly by tweaking it, but the key thing is that the film embraces the idea at the same time it is lampooning it. This is, all things considered, a gentle comedy telling the story of how Starksy and Hutch came to meet, even with Snoop Dogg bringing something of an edge to Huggy Bear.
Second, there is pretty good chemistry between Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson as Starsky and Hutch; they should since this is their sixth film together. In fact, this is the most chemistry Stiller has shown with anybody in one of his films since he worked with DeNiro. Stiller is helped by the fact that his Starsky tends to go over the top but still manages to get the job done. You keep thinking he is about to make a fool of himself, and he certainly moves in that direction, but things never get so far out of hand that he becomes just a big joke.
The big joke in the film would be the plan of bad guy Reese Feldman (Vince Vaughn) who has invented a former of cocaine that has even German shepherds cannot detect. In other words, Feldman has invented (wait for it) "new Coke." But the plot is merely an excuse for Stiller and Wilson to do scenes together and it the spirit of true partnership each gets humiliated in turn, such as when a jailhouse snitch (Will Ferrell) makes Hutch show his belly button (then things get really weird), and then they get humiliated together. It is not like we do not know that in the end Feldman is going down, because he is going down hard, man, so the plot is not the point. Furthermore, the supporting case of Juliette Lewis, Amy Smart, Carmen Electra, and Fred Williamson as Captain Dobey is pretty good for this sort of film.
Plus, you have Starsky's beloved bright-red supercharged Ford Gran Torino, which he drives like a crazy person and then becomes incensed by the thought it might get scratched or dented. The homage to the original consists of the requisite appearance by Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul, as well as Wilson warbling Soul's one hit, "Don't Give Up on Us Baby," a joke that is going to be lost on most of the viewers. Actually, throughout the film director Todd Phillips makes great use of the music of that period, such as "We've Only Just Begun" and "Afternoon Delight," to add a ironic counterpoint to the proceedings.
The characters of Starsky and Hutch have been changed so much they are unrecognisable - even allowing for the fact that this film is set before the series. Starsky is changed from a laid back, funny, brash, junk food guzzler who never exercises and rarely phones his (very much alive) mum into a manic, by-the-book, jogging loner with a (dead ex-cop) mother complex. Hutch is changed from an educated, quite reserved (compared to Starsky, anyway) fitness fad devotee and dedicated cop who was prone to the odd moral rant, to a cocaine sniffing, law breaking, lazy, couldn't-care-less cop. And the whole point with Huggy Bear in the series was that he was only a small-time, some-time bender of the law and so Starsky and Hutch could consort with him with a clear conscience, but here he is some sort of crime boss. It's a shame because the original characters gave us plenty of quirks that could have been exploited for out and out humour. Instead what we are left with is a film bearing the name Starsky and Hutch but which bears no resemblance to its namesake in anything but look.
This doesn't mean it's a bad film, though. Stiller's Starsky really does look like the genuine article and his run (very important to some of us) is spot on. The clothing and bad disguises could have been lifted straight out of the TV series. The crime story (manufacturing a drug that is undetectable) is actually quite good and Vince Vaughn makes a good main villain. And most importantly for a comedy, it is funny. Really funny in places. Stiller and Wilson give us two funny characters - I just wish they hadn't chosen to call them Starsky and Hutch.
The DVD includes a director's commentary (quite dry, sadly), some fun featurettes, deleted scenes and amusing gag reel.
I imagine if you aren't obsessive about the original then you will think this deserves more stars than I've given it (see some of the other reviews here) but those who, like me, adored the TV version should approach the film with caution to avoid disappointment.
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