Three Monkeys Online

A Curious, Alternative Magazine

Starsky and Hutch

The original series of Starsky & Hutch ran from 1975 to 1979. To be honest, being only four years of age when it ended, I don’t remember that much about it, other than the iconic Ford Grand Torino (which I had in Matchbox form) and Starsky’s big hair (a style which I too sported at this time). Today of course it has achieved cult status in these nostalgic times: the Torino, Huggy Bear, Starsky’s chunky knit cardigan – all as much a part of our seventies consciousness as space hoppers, Spangles and platform shoes.

Starsky & Hutch is one of the recent spawn of television spin-offs to hit the big screen. The early nineties gave us the sixties spin-offs: The Adams Family, Mission Impossible, even The Flintstones. Recent years have seen Hollywood trawl the TV hits of the seventies (Starsky & Hutch director Todd Philips is currently set to direct a movie version of The Six Million Dollar Man with Jim Carrey in the role of Steve Austin). I can only suppose that in ten years’ time, cinema goers will be queuing up to see adaptations of The A-Team and Knight Rider. I can but hope.

The most recent seventies spin-offs to be made into feature films were The Brady Bunch Movie, a smart satire of both the seventies and the nineties, and Charlie’s Angels, which like The Brady Bunch Movie was also set in modern day America, but was neither satirical nor smart, nor particularly funny. Todd Philips and Ben Stiller (who also acts as the film’s executive producer) initially intended giving Starsky & Hutch a modern day setting, but soon realised that the humour derived from the seventies setting – the hair, the flares, the droopy moustaches, the chunky knitwear and the macho posturing which now seems extremely camp.

Ben Stiller plays David Starsky, an uptight cop who plays by the rules who is partnered by Ken 'Hutch’ Hutchinson (Owen Wilson), Starsky’s antithesis who has more than a professional knowledge of cocaine and who robs bookies under the pretence that he’s working undercover. 'But,’ as the police captain observes, 'you’ve robbed eight bookies in the past month’.

Mismatched cop movies are of course nothing new, and Starsky & Hutch has nothing fresh to offer in this genre. The plot, such as it is, has Vince Vaughn’s permed, moustachioed kingpin dealing cocaine that can’t be detected by sniffer dogs. This leads to a predictable but hilarious scene where the cocaine is confused with artificial sweetener.

The lack of plot and biting satire is more than compensated by Stiller and Wilson’s performances: nobody does uptight like Stiller; and Wilson, with his laconic charm and Texan drawl is the perfect foil. This is the sixth film they have made together and I think this certainly shows on screen – they have a certain chemistry together – which is parodied in a series of homoerotic jokes; even the rom-com trope of mutual antipathy blossoming into mutual respect and eventually love is on display here. Basically, as was evident in their previous outing together Zoolander, it is obvious that Stiller and Wilson love nothing more than dressing up and acting the fool, which they do in abundance in this film, most amusingly when dressed up as Peter Fonda and Hopper from Easy Rider.

The only disappointment in this film is Snoop Dogg as Huggy Bear. Snoop is a truly woeful actor; apparently he was promised this role in return for an appearance in Todd Philip’s previous film Old School (another Old School member, along with Vince Vaughn, appears in Starsky & Hutch – Will Ferrell who plays an informer obsessed with dragons and Hutch’s belly button).

But Snoop’s performance is a minor gripe. Starsky & Hutch is a thoroughly enjoyable piece of fluff and considering the scarcity of genuinely funny TV adaptations, you could do a lot worse on a Friday night.

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