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It Ain't Much:
A Review of "Starsky & Hutch"

by Margaret T. Minnick

3/21/04

Well, let me just start by saying that I never watched Starsky & Hutch on TV in the first place. I don't like cop shows now, and I really didn't like them back when I was 6 years old. So maybe some "inside joke" humor was lost on me, but judging by the end of this movie (see below), I don't think so.

Starsky & Hutch is a valiant effort of a movie. All the actors do a good job, especially the inimatable Snoop Dogg and Owen Wilson (who I love even though he plays pretty much the same character in every film). No one is bad in any obvious, "woah that's some bad acting!" kind of a way. It's more the movie that's lame.

Ben Stiller plays Zoolander playing David Starsky -- well, not really, but it seems that way at times, particularly when Stiller is making his puckered-mouth "I'm pretending to be someone who thinks he's handsome" face. Starsky is the overzealous, by-the-books cop. Wilson plays Ken "Hutch" Hutchinson, an ethically-compromised cop who quickly introduces his new partner, Starsky, to the very smooth Huggy Bear (Snoop Dogg), who is a sort of pimp and double agent working both the cops and criminals sides of things.

The movie takes place in the 70s -- not the real 70s, but a sort of TV version of the 70s filtered through today's eyes, not that's any real surprise. There are several good gags related to the 70s-ness of everything, but they aren't particularly well played-out, and there are not nearly enough of them.

For instance, the normally straightlaced Starsky mistakenly takes cocaine, which leads him to challenge one of the top dancers at the local disco. But it's not that funny because the other dancer is really ugly, with a fat face and a stupid-looking perm like no one would really have had, and the dancing isn't that funny, and, well, I don't know, it's just not as funny as it should be.

Chris notes that the fat ugly dancer is played by Har Mar Superstar, who is the ironic singer who does 70s-inspired songs and whose whole schtik is to act like he's sexy even though he's fat and has a stupid perm. I suspect that this is the most inside of the inside jokes in this movie, and it's a complete waste of time.

And in another scene the two cops interview a cheerleader in the locker room and she strips bare in front of them while they're talking (she's going to take a shower, see?), but that's all there is to the entire scene. It's like a Saturday Night Live skit: the premise is funny, but nothing about the execution is, and it goes on for way too long without adding any more funny-ness.

There are also funny set-ups with the guys disguised as mimes and bikers, but that's it. Once it's been set up ("hey, they're pretending to be mimes!") there's nothing else funny about it.

That pretty much sums up Starsky & Hutch: funny premise, but there's nothing much else funny about it.

The end is dazzlingly lame: the guys who played Starsky and Hutch on TV show up and give the new Starsky their car. It is drilled into our brains 800 times in 800 different ways that these are the guys who played Starsky and Hutch on TV and it's never, ever, funny. That's why I don't think there were any subtle inside jokes in the movie: this part is so painfully obvious and repeatedly emphasized that I don't think there was room for subtlety anywhere in the film.

The outtakes during the end credits are funny, though. And don't forget to check out Jason Bateman as the evil dude's sidekick -- I'm so glad to see him back in action!


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This shot is actually the best part of the entire movie.


Snoop Dogg as Huggy Bear.


Snoop Dogg undercover.


That wacky Starsky and Hutch.

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