Retro Review: Starsky & Hutch

Do you remember that red 1974 Ford Torino? How about the screech of tires and a filter of smoke as the car took off? What about that brown perm and shaggy blonde that used to populate that car? Or how could you forget a name like Huggy Bear?

Starsky & Hutch was one of the most popular police dramas of the late 1970s and made Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul household names.

The show featured two young undercover cops who busted perps in the hardest section of Bay City.

Their car, the Ford Torino, became as famous as the A-Team’s van and the Dukes of Hazard’s General Lee in the 1980s.

It was a new kind of police drama as it focused more on youth-oriented issues.

Now 30 years later and seven months from the show’s 30th Anniversary, Hollywood rolls out the infamous cop show as a feature film comedy which pays homage to the show that made it a household name back in good old 1974.

In this new version, it is still the 1970s and Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson play the characters made famous by Glaser and Soul. This time they meet for the first time and are assigned together as partners.

We are also introduced to aspiring drug-kingpin Reese Feldman (Vince Vaughn) and his science-nerd partner Friday (Jason Bateman).

Feldman has devised a plan to score the biggest cocaine sale of his illustrious career and with Friday’s coke camouflage he can’t lose. It is up to our heroes to stop them if they don’t kill each other first.

Starsky & Hutch is a comedic homage to a 1970s show that went down in infamy. It’s not an update, sequel, prequel or remake but a lighter version of the original product. The characters are smart, funny but also feel a lot like the originals. Sure there is a lot of poking fun at the 1970s but come on when we are talking afros, elevator shoes, disco-square offs and the Bee Gees what isn’t their to smirk about.

In the original incarnation, the television show embraced the youth market and by casting Stiller and Wilson the filmmakers have found a way to make the classic product reach a new generation. Stiller embraces so much of his character in here you become amazed of how easy the transformation is. It also doesn’t hurt that he really does resemble Paul Michael Glaser in some shots.

I had a harder time with Wilson because the guy was up to his same old laid back cool dude mentality. Also Hutch was always the cooler and more attractive of the duo. Wilson does the cool but doesn’t embrace Hutch as much as Stiller is Starsky. I really did like Wilson better in “I, Spy” and the Shanghai flicks.

Wilson and Stiller really do understand each other and there are a lot of funny and classy moments between the two. I really liked the stadium and locker room scenes. They were priceless. There were also some gags that really didn’t work like the mime and stakeout bits.

I really did find that Snoop Dogg as Huggy Bear was casting at perfection. Dogg really didn’t have to expand his repertoire because he was Huggy from the first scene. He is as perfect as an actor can be in that part.

I didn’t care much for Vince Vaughn as Feldman but instead liked Bateman more as his nerd sidekick. Vaughn just wasn’t funny and that pulled away from the great chemistry of Wilson and Stiller.

What the film really needed was a lot more smart spoofy gags which poked fun at the 1970s but also paid homage to the show. I really wanted to laugh more in this movie. Besides that this is one of the smarter television to silver screen adaptations. Just could have been grander.

(3.5 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer

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