Earlier this year, I saw Get Smart, the film adaptation of a ‘60s spy sitcom I still haven’t seen a single episode of. And it was… OK, I guess. Steve Carell (The Office) made the most of what he had (and believe me, this is far from the worst film I’ve seen him in. Evan Almighty, anyone?), but his obvious comic talents were woefully underused in the film’s woefully generic script. Thus, I wasn’t exactly clamoring to see Starsky & Hutch, another film based off a really old TV series that I knew absolutely nothing about. And yet, when I finally did so on account of my dad picking it for Friday Movie Night, I wound up being pretty surprised by it. In a good way, of course.
Set in the time the original show was running, the 1970s (not just a big relief, considering how Get Smart really fell flat when presenting a blandly modernized version of its source material, but also something this film uses to disperse cleverreferences to popular things around that time, including classic films such as Easy Rider and Dirty Harry), the film follows David Starsky and Ken “Hutch” Hutchinsonas they are forced to team up with each other intracking down a ruthless drug lord who’s created a kind of cocaine completely unrecognizableas such to the nose and mouth.
Sounds prettylame already (especially since this exact same kind of “cop buddy” setup has already been done to death about a zillion times) huh? Well, fear not, forStarsky & Hutch doesa shockingly biglot with its admittedly thin plot to make us viewers laugh–so much and so consistently, in fact, that I was actually able to completely forgive the lack of any real narrative creativity. For starters, the casting was simply genius–the pairing of Ben Stiller as Starsky and Owen Wilson as Hutch was golden (even if it resulted in, as I later found out to my disappointment, the characters’ personalities switching from the show’s), and Snoop Dogg shines in one of his only PG-13-friendly roles as Huggy Bear, a laidback gangsta-like guy who also serves as a very helpful street informant for the clueless twosome.
Even better, unlike Get Smart, these people are actually given some really good material to work with, leading to a lot of moments that are kinda dumb, but incredibly funny once you accept them as such, not least the meeting with “Big Earl” (Will Ferell, insane as ever) at jail,the “Are you OK, little pony?” moment, a knife-throwing Mexican kid,a cheerleader randomly undressing in front of the two, all the scenes with the pair’sclassic red Gran Torino,everything with Huggy Bear (duh)…I could go on and on.
In fact, the only place where I really felt the film stumbling was with Starsky’s erratic behavior after ingesting a lot of what he perceives as white “artificial sweetener” (wink wink), which unfortunatelywasn’t nearly as crazy or ridiculous as it should’ve been due to, I’m guessing, the aforementioned MPAA rating. Elsewhere,Starsky & Hutchis some reallygood dumb fun on the same level with sci-fi actionerThe Fifth Element, and solid proof that really stupid-sounding movies can actually be a lot of fun to watch when written well.