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Movie Review

Starsky and Hutch

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for drug content, sexual situations, partial nudity, language and some violence

Reviewed by: Sheri McMurray
CONTRIBUTOR

Very Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens and Adults
Genre:
Crime/Gangster, Comedy and Action Adventure
Length:
1 hr. 40 min.
Year of Release:
2004
USA Release:
______
Copyright, Warner Brothers
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Warner Brothers

Every time you buy a movie ticket or rent a video you are casting a vote telling Hollywood “That’s what I want.” Why does Hollywood continue to promote immoral programming? Are YOU part of the problem?

Featuring: Ben Stiller (Along Came Polly, Orange County, The Royal Tenenbaums), Owen Wilson (The Big Bounce, Shanghai Knights), Snoop Dogg, Vince Vaughn, Fred Williamson (Old School, Zoolander)
Director: Todd Phillips (Old School, Road Trip)
Producer: William Blinn, Stuart Cornfeld, Akiva Goldsman, Alan Riche, Tony Ludwig
Distributor: Warner Brothers

Starsky and Hutch are the grooviest detectives ever to drive a souped up Gran Torino, man! That is just what this great comedy about the disco-era cop team is all about… and more. You can’t really say this is strict 1970s, and you won’t go away saying this gave me goose bumps because it was so nostalgic, holding true to the original TV show (1975-1979). You will not leave the theatre noting how much time director Todd Phillips took paying attention to detail. These characters are not the original Starsky and Hutch. About the only thing close to real ’70’ss are the clothes and, oh my, that beautiful red Gran Torino! What you will come away with is the overwhelming knowledge that you have just experienced Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson at their comedic-duo best. They make a great team in and of themselves and could pull off any “buddy” movie about any “buddies” because they have such great charisma and timing—playing off each other wonderfully.

As the story begins, the really bad guy Reese Feldman (played to the hilt with slime by Vince Vaughn) is relaxing with a couple of his “associates” on his yacht. During the conversation we are made aware that these guys have done him wrong and with no second thoughts, he blows one of these poor shmucks away. This happens within the first five minutes and is intended to let the audience know, without any doubts, that this guy, Feldman, is one BAD man. Hey, it worked for me. It also slightly reminded me of the way lots of crime/drama TV shows used to start with the “hook” so you wouldn’t change the channel until you found out how the hero (or heroes, in this case) would finally bring down the criminal element in the end.

Fade to Captain Doby’s (Fred Williamson) office where he is reprimanding Detective Ken Hutchinson (played with laid back charm by Owen Wilson) for his not so by-the-book cop style—and with frustration, lets him know that there are deals that have gone down that were NOT in the undercover cop’s manual.

Enter Hutch’s polar opposite, David Starsky (an enjoyably absurd Ben Stiller) who shows, in no uncertain terms, his life IS the force. There is nothing he wouldn’t do for copdome short of arresting a would-be criminal for short-changing a gumball machine. There is no crime too small for Starsky. Because Captain Doby isn’t impressed with either of these guy’s cop-style, his ultimate decision is to pair these two—figuring they “deserve each other”—and now we all wait for the fireworks to commence.

Feldman is ready to boost his bank account by orchestrating a multi-million dollar cocaine deal with his “new and improved” powder. As he holds a business conference with some of Bay City’s elite drug dealers, he introduces a top of the line cocaine that is virtually undetectable by taste or by the trained nose of the police dog. A mega-deal has just been cinched.

Starsky and Hutch are put on this case, and we sit back and have fun watching them “find the bad guys and bring ’em down.”

Enter now, the illustrious red Gran Torino. This moment is one of the best in the film. It introduced with all the hoopla benefitting the famous Red Tomato: screeching tires, rumbling sideways turns, and engine purring confidently under the hood—Starsky’s pride and joy. There is no way these guys are going to hunt down bad guys in anything else!

The next great comedic scene is at Huggy Bear’s diggs (played with non-winking cool by Snoop Dogg). Hutch uses Huggy as his informant and brings in Starsky as “extra fuzz.” When Starsky finds out that all the guys in the room are carrying unlicenced firearms, it is a hoot to behold the ultra-serious Starsky try to get these lawless hustlers to hand ’em over. Without giving too much away, Huggy’s pet iguana has his tail shot off—and there is a guy in their midst who is a walking book of knowledge and has an educated, eloquent explanation for all involved. Don’t worry folks, the tail will grow back.

From this point, we are taken through “the investigation” and “interrogation” stuff cops go through to corner and ultimately catch the bad guys in the act and bring them to justice. It is the comic ride you take getting there that makes this slightly tongue-in-cheek, cheesy, rollicking farce fun to watch. During the process Starsky and Hutch become real friends. Positive elements that ring out loud and clear include going out of the way to admit when you are wrong, apologizing when you’ve done something to hurt someone, and the idea that everyone deserves a second chance.

Surprisingly enough, this film shies away from the expected bathroom humor. Starsky’s “Saturday Night Fever” disco-dance, the “Easy Rider” take off and undercover biker bar spoof, along with the aforementioned scene at Huggy Bear’s are gems that aim squarely at our funny bones through our throwback knowledge of the 70s. You will be pleased that this film doesn’t come off as a campy put down, but as an enjoyable subdued tribute to the original Starsky and Hutch.

Never the less, there are points in the movie that left me feeling very uncomfortable as a Christian. Hutch’s character steals money from the wallet of a dead man, without showing any kind of repentance for this detestable act. I felt it was wrong and not very funny, although they were trying to say something about the character’s unrestrained morals. Both characters engage in womanizing and, to some degree, treat women as playthings—although Starsky’s character tries to be the more gentlemanly of the two.

NUDITY AND SEXUAL THEMES—There is a scene where they are questioning a witness (which happens to be a cheerleader) in a locker room while she disrobes. Her body is shown nude from the back and partial breast. This is NOT suitable for children. Even the implication that the male characters are enjoying this, even though Starsky is trying to be the most professional, and that a woman would even DO that sort of thing in front of two men she doesn’t know, is sending a stark message to us of how numb we have become as a society to sexual themes. NOT for children. Also, Hutch makes out with two cheerleaders who kiss him and then each other which implies the threesome go further off camera. What for? Also, NOT for children.

Gay humor abounds through the film. The detectives are implied to have put on a display for an informant with homoerotic fetishes so that they can extract much needed information from him to break the case. (We need to show understanding and compassion to all God’s children who have these unnatural sexual desires and steer them to Scriptures which point out the horrible harm this can be to their eternal salvation, not condone these acts by poking fun at them or treating them as if they were “OK.”)

Drugs are the key theme to the plot and for the movie to work thematically, it is relevant. Understand, though, the Starsky character accidentally consumes some of the cocaine which allows him to “loosen up,” and it is implied this helps him to become a happier more uninhibited person.

There is a lot of foul language sprinkled throughout this film. Profane use of the Lord’s Name is uttered several times. The f-word pops out at least twice along with a_ _ h _ _ _ _ twice, s.o.b. at least once with milder profanities bringing the grand total to 75. Unfortunately, some of these profanities and near crudities are uttered by a child and a pre-teen character.

There is violent content, included for the most part for comedic effect, but still some are disturbing and not so funny. Two scenes that stand out are the opening murder scene, and the dead body scene where Hutch steals the cash from the wallet. There is a scene where they storm into a man’s apartment and are greeted by a hail of kitchen knives being thrown by a pre-teen, several lodge in the back and leg of Starsky (as in Looney Tunes cartoons, no one is hurt and he comes back in the next scene as if nothing happened, but this could be send the message to children that it’s an OK, “funny” thing to do to someone).

For all these issues and implications, I feel the PG-13 rating is borderline.

My bottom line: This movie was fun to watch. The upside is that nothing was meant to be serious. The characters were not intended to be the Starsky and Hutch we all remember from the TV show. The comedians in this film are first rate and are the best at their craft in this generation. The downside is just that. This generation. It is a real shame that the comedy of this age has to be in your face all the time to get a laugh. Stiller and Wilson could be the Hope and Crosby duo of today, if not for that fact. They effortlessly switch from slapstick to verbal riffing and kept me laughing.

Spiritually speaking, I felt most uncomfortable, not with the laughs so much, as the depiction of sex, drug use, and violence that seems MUST take place in comedy today to get the audience’s attention. What a shame, because ultimately Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Will Ferrell, and Vince Vaughn are extremely gifted comedic actors without all the extra additives. What a pity the secular world has no clue to what they are feeding on. Go to a worldly friend, open Scripture and help him learn that God laughs, that God has created us in His image and a sense of humor most definitely is part of that image. Yet, putting other god’s on a pedestal, such as sex, drug use, and material things, are not any part of God’s plan and are nothing to laugh about.

When viewing any movie consider this: If it leads to good, it is of God. If it leads to sin, it is of the Devil. Period.

Finally, I truly enjoyed the ending where the real treasures of Starsky and Hutch come into play, which are cameos by Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul. I was impressed with the fact that they are having fun with their image in these characters and that they held up that image with grace and personality plus!

P.S. — The red 1974 Ford Gran Torino looks just like it did, and I will go right out and get the CD soundtrack—“Starsky and Hutch.” They’re The Man! (Umm… did I mention the car enough?).

Violence: Moderate | Profanity: Heavy | Sex/Nudity: Heavy

Viewer Comments
Negative—I’m sorry that I wasted time and money seeing this movie. There were some very funny moments, but the ridiculous use of the Lord’s name left me feeling convicted about being in the theater. Also, the crude homosexual overtones were very inappropriate, added nothing to the movie, and wasted the talents of some very funny actors. I would not go to see this movie again nor would I recommend it to anyone else. Seeing the Gran Torino just wasn’t worth it.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/4]
—Joe Sinko, age 43
Negative—Actually, this movie ruined my night out with my wife. My daughter was in the audience, too, which highlighted the absolute immorality of this film. The movie showed that cocaine is good, that sex with multiple partners is cool and that watching lesbians kiss is normal. Oh, and stealing from a dead man is alright as well. Also, if you are into taking God’s name and Jesus’ name in vain then this is the movie for you. This movie taught me to always check out a “Christian” view first!
My Ratings: [3]
—Kevin McFadden, age 48
Negative—I didn’t know much about the original Starsky and Hutch. I came to the movies to see Stiller who I generally find quite funny. There are very funny sections scattered through this movie (example: The Scene w/ the Donkey). Unfortunately, because of the negative subject matter of much of this film I cannot recommend this movie. Constant cursing—especially the use of the Lord’s name, Homosexual humor, Base humor, and sinful themes overflowed. There were sections of the movie that I was embarrassed to be sitting through especially in mixed company. Although this movie will allow you a few laughs you will leave if you have not seared your conscience feeling guilty. I would avoid this film.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/2]
—Aaron, age 23
Neutral—I am a huge Owen Wilson/Ben Stiller fan, so as soon as I saw that they were in a remake of the old ’70s cop show, I was thrilled thinking they would turn in another memorable performance. I was wrong on many levels. This movie does show Wilson/Stiller’s comedy to a good extent, BUT the other stuff that should’ve been left out totally outweighed it. I knew the directing was done by Todd Phillips who has a reputation of his own (Old School, Road Trip) so there’s a good firs warning. As you can read in the review above, there is a lot of stuff that should’ve made this an “R” rated movie. Unfortunately, there are some very funny parts in this movie, that Ben and Owen are known best for. Due to the extremely off-color content of this movie, I really can’t recommend it.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/2½]
—Joseph, age 21
Positive—I was actually surprised by how funny this movie was, I expected it to be corny, the movie showed the value of friendship (as shown between Starsky and Hutch) I didn’t find the nudity with Playboy Playmate Brande Roderick to be offensive. I would recommend this movie to a friend.
My Ratings: [Average/3½]
—Jack Jensen
Negative—This movie was very offensive. I felt terrible that my 15 year old son and his cousin were in the audience. We sat through about 20 minutes of nothing but talk about drugs, and walked out when the two women began kissing. Such funny guy’s, it’s a shame they did this movie.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/1]
—Terri McGee, age 38
Positive—I enjoyed this movie, Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson were cast perfectly for the parts of Starsky and Hutch, I hope that a sequel is made for this movie. I agree with what Starsky said, to “Jeff” and the other bar-goers,in the movie “Be proud of who and what you are,be yourself, that’s what’s really cool” The movie showed how teamwork and cooperation is important, and the value of respecting the law. That, I feel is a positive message, overall, this movie was very funny.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/3]
—Mike Smith
NeutralBen Stiller and Owen Wilson put together is Extreme Comedy. I love watching both of them act together. I enjoyed watching this movie purely for entertainment and comedic reason. However, I didn’t feel that the two girls kissing, the nude cheerleader and other such scenes necessary at all. This movie is purely for mature viewers looking for action and comedy in one package.
My Ratings: [Average/4]
—GK, age 18
Positive—…if you are a parent looking for a movie to go to with your kids, this is not it. But if you are an adult who can take a few jokes and enjoy a good comedy, this is a good fit! By now, if you watch enough movies, you should be aware of the fact that PG-13 doesn’t exclude one or two utterances of the “F” word and partial nudity, Starsky and Hutch is no exception. However, both of these moments are done for comedic effect so it makes them a little easier to swallow. If you enjoyed Meet the Parents, you will most likely enjoy this one. Just know that as a believer, I don’t necessarily agree with everything in the film, but as an experienced moviegoer, I don’t get offended too easily.
My Ratings: [Average/3]
—Dallas Knowles, age 24
Negative—This movie was offensive to me and left me wishing I would not have wasted my money. The parts that I was most offended by were the use of the Lord’s name in vain (3 times) and the homosexual humor. There is even a scene with 2 girls making out. It discourages me that you cannot even attend a PG-13 movie without experiencing some of these blatant portrayals of Satan’s presence in our society.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/3]
—Star Brennan, age 30
Positive—…VERY funny movie. There isn’t really any hard-core violence, and the movie promotes an overall good message, to learn to get along with and work with someone who is different from you. The only bit of objectionable material I saw was the drug use, however when people used drugs they where shown to do idiotic things and seemed extremely “uncool,” so the movie certainly doesn’t glorify drugs. Parents should still discuss this (drug refs. and useage) when seeing this movie with their children though.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4½]
—Kat, age 18
Negative—I thought that the acting in the movie was fair, and the movie itself was fair… using the one f-word and using the Lord’s name was uncalled for. The scenes in the movie where they were at the women’s locker room where they were asking the girl a question and she was full nude was very offensive—and another scene where they were asking the prisoner some questions and the prisoner telling them to do some very offensive stuff was uncalled for. I feel that this movie should’ve been cleaned up.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/1½]
—twftm

Comments from young people
Neutral—It is a bit offensive by that there is some words like “S” and Damn. There is some violence like punching and guns, and there is cocaine involved.
My Ratings: [Average/4]
—Tina, age 12
Negative—I had apprehensions about seeing this movie before I went, and I should have listened to them. This movie had so many objectional things in it, but I will list only the main ones. First of all was the language: including, the f-word. Starsky and Hutch interview a cheerleader who undresses in front of them. They also go see a male felon who has a very unusual fascination with dragons, and asks to see Hutch’s stomach, and then has them pose like dragons for information. I received the impression this was a homosexual undertone. Starsky unintentionally gets high on what he thinks in a sweetener. His reaction is used for laughs and doesn’t convey the horrors of using cocaine. After putting Starsky to bed Hutch kisses both their dates, then asking the women if they want to kiss each other. This kiss is not short, and it is definitely not for a PG-13 movie. Other objections are not as strong but there, including Hutch being a less than honest cop, and using the traditional Hispanic looking drug-lord, who by the way just happens to be Jewish. (Where are all those people who claimed the Passion was anti-semetic?) I cannot recommend this movie for anyone, and I hope no one else has to sit through this terrible movie.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/3]
—Laura N., age 16
Positive—It’s an awesome movie, very funny. The only thing that some people might have a problem with is there is a quite a lot of curse words and the whole idea is trying to keep the bad guys from selling Cocaine. Otherwise it is very funny. There was no part in it that was boring.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/5]
—Jonatham
Positive—Funniest movie ever!! I never stoped laughing through the whole movie. There was some drug content but it was done in a realy funny manner.
My Ratings: [Good/5]
—John Mckensy, age 14
Movie Critics
…cruises along agreeably on the easy chemistry between Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson
—Michael Rechtshaffen, The Hollywood Reporter
…the movie puts most of its chips on the co-stars’ rapport…
—The Globe and Mail
…laughs are spotty and feel like a stitched-together series of sketches…
—E! Online
…crude humor, bad language, drugs and sex…
—Mary Draughon, Preview Family Movie and TV Review
…Gay humor abounds throughout the film… Jesus’ name is used and abused close to a dozen times…
—Steven Isaac, Plugged In