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Todd Phillips
Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn, Juliette Lewis, Snoop Dogg, Fred Williamson, Jason Bateman, Amy Smart, Carmen Electra
Writing Credits:
William Blinn (characters), Stevie Long (story), John O'Brien, Todd Phillips, Scot Armstrong

They're the man.

Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson bring a playful chemistry to the roles of undercover detectives Starsky and Hutch. Todd Phillips directs this '70s groove in which our guys are stripped of their badges, duped by a drug kingpin (Vince Vaughn) and totally ripped off in a disco contest. So, yeah, they got some scores to settle. Snoop Dogg is in fly funkadelic mode as urban coolster Huggy Bear. And Juliette Lewis and others make for nonstop fun. If inducing laughter is a crime, they're all guilty as charged!

Box Office:
$60 million.
Opening Weekend
$28.103 million on 3185 screens.
Domestic Gross
$88.200 million.

Rated PG-13

Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1

Runtime: 100 min.
Price: $27.95
Release Date: 7/20/2004

• Audio Commentary with Director Todd Phillips
• “Fashion Fa Shizzle With Huggy Bizzle”
• “Last Look” Special
• Deleted Scenes
• Gag Reel
• Theatrical Trailer


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Starsky & Hutch (2004)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 20, 2004)

Maybe someday the parade of big screen adaptations of old TV series will end. Maybe when that happens, they’ll remake the remakes. But Hollywood hasn’t gotten to that point yet, so we come to Starsky & Hutch, a movie take on the Seventies cop show.

Set in “Bay City” during the Seventies, we immediately meet drug lord Reese Feldman (Vince Vaughn), who shoots a thug named Terrence (David Pressman) when the latter botches a job. From there we encounter two cops. David Starsky (Ben Stiller) is an ultra-devoted straight arrow, whereas Ken Hutchinson (Owen Wilson) plays things loose and is willing to cross the line into illegal dealings if it benefits him. Their captain (Fred Williamson) partners the opposites, and to no one’s surprise, they don’t get along well at first.

In the meantime, we see that Reese has developed a form of cocaine that police dogs can’t sniff. Starsky and Hutch happen upon the washed-ashore corpse of Terrence, and when they investigate, they find a business card for Reese. The rest of the film follows their investigation, as abetted by club owner, neighborhood boss and police informant Huggy Bear (Snoop Dogg).

TV adaptations can go one of two ways. They can either follow the SWAT path and present serious takes on the material, or they can go the Brady Bunch route and pour on the camp. When Hutch opens with Barry Manilow’s “Can’t Smile Without You”, there’s no question the filmmakers decided to take Path #2.

Setting the flick in the Seventies makes this much easier. That most eminently mock-worthy decade never seems to get old, and Hutch scores some points with that material. However, it rarely goes out of its way to play up those connections. Director Todd Phillips wanted to make a film that looked like it was made in the Seventies, but he doesn’t quite succeed; it includes too many mockingly self-conscious references to the era’s silliness to feel like a product of the period. Nonetheless, he doesn’t go too far with that attitude, and that helps make the gags work better.

Not that this means one should expect anything even remotely approaching a straight film, as Hutch always aims for the funny bone. It features a mix of action scenes to compete with the original TV series, but these always take on a comedic tone. Whether by subverting standard expectations or by pouring on the excess, the flick finds a light and humorous approach to everything.

This means it walks a fine line between cleverness and stupidity, but it mostly stays on the right side of that issue. A lot of the credit for the film’s success comes from the pairing of Wilson and Stiller. They demonstrate terrific chemistry and play off each other exceedingly well. They make some questionable material work; it’s hard to imagine this movie being as entertaining with other actors in the leads. A supporting cast with quite a few notable talents certainly helps.

Despite a plot so thin that one might blow one’s nose into it, Starsky & Hutch provides an entertaining comedy. It spoofs its source in an affectionate and never comes across as unlikable or mean-spirited. A funny homage to the Seventies, it doesn’t stand a chance of turning into a classic, but it offers a lively diversion nonetheless.

The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+/ Bonus C+

Starsky & Hutch appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Don’t expect any serious concerns from this solid presentation.

Sharpness came across strongly. The movie appeared nicely distinct and accurate. I noticed only minor signs of softness during this crisp and detailed picture. Jagged edges and moiré effects caused no issues, but I did detect some light edge enhancement at times. No examples of source defects popped up during the movie, as it always remained clean.

To match the Seventies setting, Hutch used a lot of earth tons, so we mostly saw forms of brown and orange. These occasionally seemed a bit too heavy, though this may have been intentional. In any case, the colors usually appeared well replicated and firm. Black levels came across as deep and solid, while shadow detail looked appropriately dense but not too thick. Ultimately, the visuals of Starsky & Hutch were positive.

Similar accolades greeted the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Starsky & Hutch. While not overwhelmingly active, the soundfield provided a nice setting for the material. The front spectrum featured most of the information and created a great sense of place. The elements moved cleanly across the speakers and meshed well to form a vivid and lively foundation. The surrounds mostly supported that, but they also kicked in a fair amount of independent information when necessary, and they added a good boost to the package.

Across the board, audio quality worked well. Speech always remained natural and distinctive, with no signs of edginess or problems with intelligibility. Music was bright and vibrant, especially in the reproduction of period songs; those sounded quite dynamic and clear. Effects seemed vivid and accurate, with strong range and no distortion on display. The soundfield wasn’t quite ambitious enough to enter “A” territory, but I still felt very satisfied with the audio of Hutch.

A smattering of extras round out the DVD. We begin with an audio commentary from director Todd Phillips, who offers a running, screen-specific chat. Unfortunately, it’s not terribly interesting. Phillips gets into subjects like visual design, sets and locations, improvisation, and the tone of the movie. However, much of the time he largely just tells us the names of actors and semi-narrates the story. We don’t learn a lot about the flick in this mediocre commentary.

Next we find a featurette called Fashion Fa Shizzle With Huggy Bizzle. In this two-minute and 38-second piece, Snoop Dogg leads us through a tour of the outfits designed for his character. It’s superficial but cute.

A twist on the traditional “making of” program appears via the Last Look special. This runs nine minutes, 15 seconds and includes movie clips, shots from the set, and interviews with Phillips, producers Alan Riche and Stuart Cornfeld, and actors Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn, Snoop Dogg, Jason Bateman, Carmen Electra, Amy Smart, Molly Sims, David Soul, Paul Michael Glaser and Juliette Lewis. A parody of the usual happy talk featurette, in this one everyone badmouths each other in a comedic manner. This makes it amusingly different but it doesn’t act as informative.

After this we discover six Deleted Scenes. These run a total of six minutes, 25 seconds and provide some minor gags. A few funny bits appear, but nothing that expanded on the story, especially since many of them just reiterate the early tension between the partners. Probably the most interesting one is the final clip, as it shows an alternate concept for the ending.

In addition to the film’s Theatrical Trailer, we get a Gag Reel. It fills four minutes, 55 seconds, and it presents the usual assortment of goofs and giggles.

Given the overabundance of bad movies adapted from TV shows, I didn’t expect much from Starsky & Hutch. However, the film offered a refreshingly charming and amusing affair that consistently entertains. The DVD presents very good picture and sound plus a minor roster of extras. While not a great package, the DVD seems good overall and merits my recommendation.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.64 Stars Number of Votes: 25
7 3:
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