Starsky & Hutch (15)

Directed by Todd Phillips, Written by Stevie Long and William Blinn

Reviewed by Barbara Ford

Having looked forward to this film since first hearing about it, I found myself approaching the cinema with some trepidation. Would it be unkind to my 70s heroes? Would it be screamingly unfunny, an embarrassment even? I so wanted it to succeed. After all, haven’t we Starsky & Hutch fans been lauding it to our kids, making extreme OTT claims for its credibility and cleverness? There was a lot at stake, and during the first rather clumsy five minutes or so of introduction, I found myself wishing I’d stayed at home. It soon picked-up pace though and the laughs came thick and fast. The film proved even better than I had dared to hope.

Part of the success of the original TV series was the on-screen chemistry between its stars (Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul) and here the movie used advantage with the inspired casting of Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson. This couple are movie magic together, a joy to watch, and they played out the characters of the two cops extremely well, especially Stiller, who at times looked uncannily like Starsky. The sets, clothes and hairstyles were spot on - a real nostalgia trip for most of the audience judging by their reactions! The disco scene, I have to admit, made me want to ‘get up and boogie’. Fortunately, my companion restrained me.

The film is a gentle, loving parody of the TV series, a deferential and respectful nod in their direction. It covers the beginning of the famous partnership, when the two are flung together for the first time - a sort of ‘prequel’ to the TV show. As they set out on a cocaine ring bust, their relationship develops and they become close buddies, with a not very subtle hint at homoeroticism. This ‘male bonding’ was groundbreaking stuff back in the Seventies, but today we may wonder what the fuss was about. The movie, therefore, does not overplay this element of their relationship, apart from an amusing scene were the two are making up after an argument, when things get a little silly. So what? Guys cry, and it is OK. Move on.

Purists may be disappointed with the performance of Snoop Dogg as Huggy Bear, but he played himself very well! Will Farrell deserves a special mention as Big Earl, an incarcerated criminal with a penchant for sewing and men pretending to be dragons! The other star of the film is of course the famous red and white Ford Gran Torino, and car chase enthusiasts will not be disappointed.

The twin partnerships of S & H, and S & W are so successful, that I am prepared to lay a small wager that we will see a sequel. This is a fun film with many hilarious moments, and it stands on its own, regardless of the TV show. Even if you have never seen an episode of Starsky and Hutch, you will enjoy this movie. Hey...respect!