Todd Phillips is a mastermind-in-disguise. Most Hollywood successes that achieve greatness their first few times around tend to move into obscurity as they “expand their horizons” by thinning their audience and final product’s quality. Starsky & Hutch, Phillips’s third feature film after directing cult classic laugh fests Road Trip and Old School, is a one hour and forty-minute reminder, from a man who seems to be the funniest director in Hollywood, that he’s going to stay that way. Between the cast and humor, it looks like Old School, Zoolander, and VH-1’s Where Are They Now? all had sex and gave birth to a beautiful two-headed lovechild, and its name is Starsky & Hutch.
For all you non-engineers out there like myself, here’s a quick equation: 70’s outdated fashion and homosexual idiosyncrasies, plus the funniest actors in Phillips’ previous movies, plus Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson, forever worthy for their teamwork in Zoolander, all combine to make Starsky & Hutch much more than just a remake. It has all the laughs, well-placed lines, and mannerisms you could hope for. It boasted a lot more action than I had presumed it would. A motorbike scene and the climactic attempt to land Starsky’s Gran Tarino in a moving boat give nice little shout-outs to Easy Rider and The French Connection. And, possibly most interesting, Starsky & Hutch holds its own as a feature-film much more convincingly than Phillips’ previous work. The film flows well, from the opening of Stiller’s nit-picky cop tactics and Wilson’s illegal solo work, through the two becoming good friends, all the way to their being honored as a successful undercover duo. This entire premise is achieved in one swift swoop of entertaining, attention-keeping, and sexual identity-teasing homage to the past (70’s cop films), the present (Stiller, Wilson, and the majority of the Old School cast), and the future (Phillips). At the risk of sounding exceedingly won over, here’s the supporting cast: Snoop Dogg, Vince Vaughn, Will Ferrell, Carmen Electra, Amy Smart