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You know a movie is in trouble when a car is the most entertaining thing on the screen. But such is the case with Starsky & Hutch where the famous 1974 red-and-white Ford Torino has been brought out of retirement and provides most of the excitement in this new version of the 1970's TV series. Still set in in the 70's, the new movie version tells the story of two dopey police detectives, David Starsky (Ben Stiller) and Ken "Hutch" Hutchinson (Owen Wilson). The troubled pair of detectives sets out to prevent a huge drug deal involving genetically modified cocaine. OK, so the writers of Starsky & Hutch don't know what the word 'anachronism' means. The villain is a dopey druglord (Vince Vaughn), assisted by his dopey accountant (Jason Bateman) and dopey girlfriend (Juliette Lewis). Starsky & Hutch still work for Captain Dobey (Fred Williamson) and get their information from their favorite snitch, Huggy Bear (Snoop Doggy Dogg).
I must say, I felt a bit of a thrill at the beginning of Starsky & Hutch when the Torino speeds down the same alley that it used to speed down every week in the credits of the TV series. Unfortunately, the only thrills in the movie are supplied by the car. It steals every scene it appears in, showing a charisma not seen in a car since the Bluesmobile. The only other big thrill of the movie is the cameo appearance by the original Starsky & Hutch, Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul. Coming at the end of the movie, their appearance makes you wish that they had been the ones reprising their roles. It's not that Starsky & Hutch is miscast. Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson are really funny guys and seem meant for these roles. The problem here is much the same as in the remakes of Charlie's Angels. The original TV shows were a bit camp but they were not comedies. The remakes of both Charlie's Angels and Starsky & Hutch are meant to be satires of the originals. Unfortunately, they don't go far enough with the satire and they try to have a real plot and story. But the story here is pretty boring and the satire isn't that funny. Mostly, I was left to admire the eye-candy cameos provided by Amy Smart (Varsity Blues), Carmen Electra (Baywatch), Molly Sims (House of Style) and Brande Roderick (Baywatch) while I waited for the next scene featuring the Torino. And, it was nice to see Baton Rouge's most famous resident, Snoop Doggy Dogg on the screen.
It might have been better if the producers of Starsky & Hutch had spent as much time and effort on the script as they did recreating the clothes and look of the 1970's. There are a few funny moments like Stiller running on the beach with a pair of huge headphones. But much of the satire seemed to be lost on the crowd anyway since everyone else in the theatre seemed to have been born sometime after Starsky & Hutch went off the air. Who knows what they made of the scene where Stiller and Wilson are made up to look like Fonda and Hopper in Easy Rider. Luckily, there was always the Torino. And it wasn't just there to generate thrills. The Torino provided a few laughs as well, more than Stiller and Wilson put together.