Unlike “The Brady Bunch”, “Starsky & Hutch” was a show that tried to be taken seriously, but clearly warranted spoofing. I mean seriously, how can you take a cop show seriously when it’s two inept cop characters ride around “undercover” in a very noticeable conspicuous large bright cherry red gran turino? It was a fact that caused many television viewers to make fun of, and it’s also very focused on here with an exaggerated sequence that brought the spirit of the show very well. Now, the teaming of Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller would be very funny to see had it not been the thousandth time they’ve teamed up together as partners as seen in movies like “The Royal Tenenbaums”, and the awful “Zoolander”.
Their chemistry is most of the time so artificial, but its clear that they love to work together, but we would love to see them together should they ever come up with better character personas. Wilson approaches Hutch with a very relaxed, easy, laid back charming personality, something we saw in a billion other movies he’s been in, and Stiller approaches Starsky as an anal retentive adrenaline fueled manly man who takes himself too seriously, a character we saw in “Mystery Men”, and “Dodgeball”, so we’re not walking over new territory here as far as Wilson and Stiller’s characters go. We’ve seen these guys before so it’s hard to find them funny or refreshing at all. Director Todd Phillips doesn’t seem to be thinking outside of the box with films like “Old School”, and then this which doesn’t seem to really want to take any risks as far as spoofs go. What’s the most tear inducing saddest element here? Vince Vaughn and Jason Bateman together tend to outshine Stiller and Owen Wilson as partners.
You can’t help but laugh at Vaughn’s handlebar mustache that makes him look like an out of work porn star while Bateman deadpans every one of his lines with much hilarity sporting business man shades and mustache. These two are very funny here and often times I found myself laughing louder at Vaughn’s antics. His dancing to a dirty band at his daughter’s party, and his dialogue often made me chuckle because Vaughn who looks as if he should be in more dramatic films takes his tenacity for deadpan into comedies and becomes very funny here. Meanwhile there are also some good gags that I liked, including the scene where Stiller gets high on coke, and the cliché interrogation scene where he starts throwing things. Not to mention the scene with the Russian roulette. It’s basically a time killer with a lot of forgettable jokes that go on way too long many times, and many of the gags just made me furrow my brows and then they were forgotten. A lot of the jokes attempt to poke fun at the original shows idiocy, but it’s all very half-assed.
They don’t touch upon a lot of the bad action sequences, they don’t touch on how much Huggy Bear was a stereotype, they never touch upon the real sexual tension between the two male stars; Phillips just seems to play it safe, especially with gags as obvious as Hutch singing “Don’t Give Up on Us”, a blatant jab at David Soul. There’s a very thin line between spoofing something and poking fun at something, and the problem is “Starsky and Hutch” is never sure whether it’s spoofing the sheer ridiculousness of the original show, or just poking fun at it harmlessly, because it basically teeters back and forth and never takes jabs at what really made the show dumb to begin with. It’s never really sure what to do the actual material it’s attempting to farce. While its clear the writers don’t take the source material too seriously, it’s clear they don’t take the movie all too seriously because there’s not much of a laugh in the film. This is really just one of the poor adaptations of a classic show with characters that Wilson and Stiller portray that we’ve seen a thousand times already, and jokes that go on too long to draw actual laughs from.