Published Mar 01, 2004The success of Old School took almost everyone by surprise, even director Todd Phillips. After the somewhat dreadful Road Trip, it seemed that this young filmmaker was destined to make comedies that appealed only to those of below-average intelligence. However, it wasn't Phillips that saved Old School, it was the winning combination of Luke Wilson, Will Ferrell and Vince Vaughn's comedic talents that salvaged Phillip's script the film would have barely made a whimper at the box office without that line-up.
The exact same formula stellar cast and mediocre script has been repeated for Starsky & Hutch, another '70s television show given a modern makeover. The combination of Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson recreating the odd couple undercover cop team of David Starsky and Ken Hutchinson should be enough to make this film funny, but will it be enough to carry an entire film?
Starsky (Stiller) is an uptight cop who does everything by the book, so you can imagine how things get turned upside down when he's paired-up with the easygoing Hutch (Wilson). Thankfully, the friction between these two isn't played up as much as it could have been, seeing as it could have been the basis for the entire film. Soon, this new combination stumbles upon a huge cocaine ring in which Reese Feldman (the incredible Vince Vaughn) and his sidekick Friday (the well-disguised Jason Bateman) have discovered a way to make pure coke undetectable to the smell and taste, cleverly deeming it the "new coke." Starsky and Hutch know there's more than meets the eye when it comes to Feldman, shrugging off claims that they're merely dealing with coffee sweetener, and use a variety of disguises and tactics to bring this operation down.
Along with the fantastic leads there's also Snoop Dogg playing Huggy Bear, a role that is grossly underused in the film, and he delivers one of the more subtle yet amusing scenes in the film: one where the toothpick-shaped Snoop goes undercover as a golf caddy who knows a lot about grass. Will Ferrell also makes an appearance as a creepy thug with a fetish for dragons, but he doesn't seem to quite connect with the rest of the film, same with the embarrassing cameo of Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul, the original Starsky and Hutch, who show their age and lack of comedic talent.
It's refreshing to see that this film took a page out of the Brady Bunch movies rather than Charlie's Angels, opting to keep Starsky and Hutch in 1975 and use ancient technology and outdated fashion for laughs, rather than trying to make a slicker version with dozens of explosions. Still, the script is weak and there are simply no huge laughs, once again leaving it up to the cast to bail out Phillips. Starsky & Hutch has its moments but it fails to live up to the amazing potential of its assembled talent. Now, had Stiller and Wilson penned this script themselves, we may have seen something incredible. (Warner)