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Starsky & Hutch’: Fun but forgettable

Courtney McKay | Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Starsky & Hutch, loosely based on a 1970s television show, lacks a strong script and memorable comedic scenes, but still has enough episodes of hilarity to prove a decent movie for an hour and a half of mindless laughs.Teamed up for their sixth movie together, Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson play detectives David Starsky and Ken “Hutch” Hutchinson, mismatched misfits on the 1970s Bay City police force. Despite their conflicting personalities, the duo is partnered together by their exasperated boss, captain Doby (Fred Williamson). The tense Starsky, with his by-the-book work ethic, and the laid-back Hutch, who has been known to pocket a few dollars from the wallets of dead victims, must team up to catch the ruthless drug pusher Reese Feldman (Vince Vaughn). Unbeknownst to the police, Vaughn has recently invented a form of cocaine that is completely undetectable by drug-sniffing dogs and tastes strikingly like artificial sweetener, all while planning a bat mitzvah for his daughter.Stiller shines in his role, and Wilson, while still playing the mellow, charming character he for which is best known, tones down his mannerisms a notch allowing Stiller and his slap-stick, spastic antics to take the lead.Ultimately, however, the supporting actors steal the show. Brilliantly cast, Snoop Dogg, as police informant and pimp Huggy Bear, delivers some of the funniest lines of the movie, including, “I know some people who know some people who rob some people.” The sight of his scrawny body covered with archaic wiretapping devices may be the best scene in the movie. Will Ferrell also is hilarious in the role of Big Earl, the dragon-loving, hairnet-wearing convict with a crush on Hutch. Actresses Juliette Lewis, Carmen Electra and Amy Smart also turn in talented performances.Although a plot emerges occasionally, most of the time the movie seems like a series of stitched-together comedy sketches. This lack of real plot direction, as well as careless camera angles from director and co-writer Todd Phillips, adds to the campy atmosphere that harkens back to cheesy television programs of the 1970s and gives the movie a feeling of authenticity.Despite some slow moments, there are many gems throughout the film. One scene includes Starsky and Hutch going to question a suspect and being attacked by his knife-hurling son. Another amusing scene has Starsky and Hutch going undercover at a charity dinner. Starsky transforms into the deep-voiced, over-the-top Ward Finkle, whose tagline is the command, “Do it.” Perhaps the movie’s most memorable scene is the nightclub disco dance-off, reminiscent of the walk-off scene in Stiller’s other movie, Zoolander. Although it is full of clichés and predictable story lines, Starsky & Hutch is amusing enough to satisfy those looking for something silly, enjoyable and fun.