|Starsky & Hutch (2004)
Starring: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Snoop Dogg, Vince Vaughn, Will Farrell, Carmen Electra, Molly Sims, Amy Smart, Juilette Lewis, Chris Penn, Jason Bateman
Director: Todd Phillips
As far as adaptating 1970s television classics for the big screen goes, "Starsky & Hutch" isn't as bad as some of the more recent entries to come out of the remake machine. It's a pretty basic concept to stretch into a feature-length film, so it's no surprise that director Todd Phillips strikes nostalgic gold, squeezing just enough comedy out of the buddy cop formula to keep it afloat during its brisk 95-minute runtime.
Dave Starsky (Ben Stiller) and Ken “Hutch” Hutchinson (Owen Wilson) have just been assigned as partners working in the Bay City Police Department. By-the-books Starsky has issues with Hutch’s loose cannon personality, but they begin to form a workable friendship as they track down a high-class drug dealer (Vince Vaughn) who has just introduced an undetectable form of cocaine into the market. With the help of their street informant, Huggy Bear (Snoop Dogg), and a sexually deranged con (played with customary wit by Will Ferrell), the duo go undercover to stop the bad guys and clean up the streets.
“Starsky & Hutch” doesn’t rely too heavily on its weak plot, but rather on the dynamic relationship between Stiller and Wilson that has been such a winning combination in past films like “Zoolander” and “Meet the Parents.” The action sequences are well-shot and used more for comedic effect, while Vince Vaughn scores big laughs as the fast-talking villain and Snoop Dogg is effective as the loveable street pimp.
One of the movie's biggest strengths is in keeping the story in the 1970s where it belongs. Too many remakes these days attempt to modernize the material, and it usually plays a big part in their undoing. By setting the film in the 70s, Phillips not only gets to play around with lots of great music, fashion and lingo, but also exploit the more humorous aspects of the decade for comedy. It's not the ideal remake, but it successfully recreates the show’s characters and style in a way that should please fans of the series.