Detective David Starsky is the most dedicated undercover cop working the mean streets of Bay City, California. Maniacally devoted to his job, when he's on duty no crime goes unpunished--and he's always on duty. And that's a good thing, because he has some metaphorically big shoes to fill: his mother was a legend on the force, one of the...
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Detective David Starsky is the most dedicated undercover cop working the mean streets of Bay City, California. Maniacally devoted to his job, when he's on duty no crime goes unpunished--and he's always on duty. And that's a good thing, because he has some metaphorically big shoes to fill: his mother was a legend on the force, one of the best cops in the history of Bay City. But while his mom stuck with the same partner throughout her entire career, due to his extremely zealous brand of police work, Starsky burns through partners faster than his beloved Gran Torino goes through spark plugs. Detective Ken "Hutch" Hutchinson is having career issues of his own--he's a good cop, but his hazardously laidback personality and desire for a quick buck don't always get the job done. He has excellent instincts, he just needs a little bit of focus to keep him on the admittedly less profitable side of the law. Exasperated Bay City Police Captain Dobey has found the perfect solution for two of his biggest problems: pair up Starsky and Hutch and put them out on the streets. As soon as the two mismatched crime fighters unhappily begin their first day on the beat as a team, a "floater" turns up on the Bay City coastline. With the help of Hutch's dynamite, street-savvy informant Huggy Bear, the two begin to unravel the mysterious murder case. Investigating their first clue, the boys meet Staci and Holly, Bay City Cheerleaders who are more than eager to help--in any way they can. All signs seem to point at wealthy businessman Reese Feldman, but Starsky and Hutch just can't seem to make a case against him. Unbeknownst to them, Feldman has cooked up a plan to foil the DEA and is plotting the biggest and most lucrative drug deal of his career. The unlikely duo will use their canniest undercover skills, hardcore street smarts and striking good looks to solve the crime and make sure the criminal does the time.
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Turn up the '70s soundtrack, break out the polyester shirts and hop into the white-striped red Ford Gran Torino: It's Starsky & Hutch--a big-screen treatment of the '70s TV cop show, low on plot but high on retro comedy.
Welcome to Bay City (that's San Francisco, folks) circa 1975, where the action's hot and the afro sportin', platform shoes wearin', disco lovin' natives are even hotter. One such denizen is David Starsky (Ben Stiller), a by-the-book homicide detective whose motto is ''When you cross the line, your nuts are mine!'' He's got a lot to prove--his mom was a legend in the force, killed in the line of duty--and his fierce determination to bring in the bad guys drives away potential partners. Finally he's paired up with Ken ''Hutch'' Hutchinson (Owen Wilson), a laid-back detective who ''looks out for Numero Uno'' and has a tough time upholding the law because he keeps breaking it. On their first day as partners, the boys find a dead body floating in the bay. With the help of Hutch's super-fly ''urban informant'' Huggy Bear (Snoop Dogg), who tells them ''I dish it out so you can play it out,'' they follow a trail that leads to businessman/suspected drug dealer Reese Feldman (Vince Vaughn). The unlikely duo have to look past their differences and pool all their street smarts, undercover skills and good looks to get to the bottom of this one.
Sometimes casting is everything. Without the manic and hilarious Stiller, the breezy and unaffected Wilson, the ultra-cool hip-hopper Snoop Dogg and the wry and flippant Vaughn, Starsky & Hutch would quickly fall apart since it lacks anything resembling a compelling plot. Stiller and Wilson re-create that groovy chemistry they had in Zoolander; they read each other intuitively. But more important, for those fans who want to wax nostalgic, the actors also bear an uncanny resemblance to the original Starsky & Hutch players, TV stars Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul (who, of course, make a strategic cameo--and don't look too bad for old guys). Same goes for Snoop Dogg as Huggy Bear, although he has a slightly menacing attitude that the original Huggy, Antonio Fargas, didn't. Vaughn makes a delicious bad guy, spouting offhand non-sequiturs in the midst of the mayhem he creates. Case in point, after shooting a delinquent minion on his yacht, he sits down in the sun and asks his mistress (played by a gleeful Juliette Lewis) if he's ''tanning weird.'' But Will Ferrell's brief appearance as a prison inmate with a penchant for dragons and belly buttons nearly steals the show.
This is director/co-writer Todd Phillips' (Road Trip, Old School) third attempt at broad comedy, and while we'd like to say he keeps getting better at it, it wouldn't be true. Certainly Phillips has a knack for the genre: Old School combined a convincing, albeit simplistic, story with bellyaching hysterics, and Phillips employs many of the same devices and an equally talented cast to pull off similarly hilarious moments in Starsky & Hutch. Unfortunately, the director is working with limited and rehashed material. The original TV show version of Starsky & Hutch, which ran from 1975 to 1979, was all about the adorable Starsky, the drop-dead gorgeous Hutch, the car--and that's about it. No NYPD Blue or Hill Street Blues high drama there. While Phillips hits all the S & H high points, he isn't able to flesh out much more than the show did--and considering how hokey it was to begin with, you wish he'd added something a little more to the original.
Starsky & Hutch will remind you just how bad '70s cop shows could be, but its stellar comic cast will keep you laughing in spite of it.
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