Starsky & Hutch (2004)

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Released 17-Aug-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-Todd Phillips (Director)
Featurette-Fashion Fa Shizzle Wit Huggy Bizzle
Featurette-Last Look Special
Deleted Scenes
Outtakes
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 96:24
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Todd Phillips
Studio
Distributor

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Ben Stiller
Owen Wilson
Snoop Dogg
Fred Williamson
Vince Vaughn
Juliette Lewis
Jason Bateman
Amy Smart
Carmen Electra
George Cheung
Chris Penn
Brande Roderick
Molly Sims
Case ?
RPI $36.95 Music Theodore Shapiro


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 1.0 (96Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Spanish
Portuguese
Swedish
Norwegian
Danish
Finnish
Icelandic
Estonian
Spanish Audio Commentary
Portuguese Audio Commentary
Swedish Audio Commentary
Norwegian Audio Commentary
Danish Audio Commentary
Finnish Audio Commentary
Icelandic Audio Commentary
Spanish Titling
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, Outtakes in end credits

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Starsky & Hutch was a classic piece of 1970s television hokum. Originally the show began its television run in 1975 and it is somewhat surprising that it took so long for the ultimate kitsch buddy cop story to make its way to the big screen. The show was a typical Aaron Spelling affair with good looking cops, funky disco beats, lots of cheesy one-liners and plenty of souped-up car chases and soft-core action scenes. It had the lot. The show was very successful, running for four seasons and racking up almost ninety episodes. It paired blond musical heartthrob David Soul (Silver Lady, Don't Give Up On Us) with the relatively unknown tousle-haired Paul Michael Glaser as a mismatched, constantly bickering brace of detectives, working the streets of fictitious Bay City (looking strangely like Los Angeles).

    Given the recent trend towards re-making all things kitsch (The Brady Bunch, The Flintstones, Charlie's Angels) it is not surprising that we now have a superbly executed homage to the series, in the form of this movie starring Ben Stiller (Zoolander, Meet the Parents and the underrated Mystery Men) and Owen Wilson (Behind Enemy Lines and Zoolander). David Starsky (Stiller) is a rough and tumble cop, originally raised on the streets of New York. His methods are sometimes unorthodox, but he takes his role as a police officer very seriously. Ken Hutchinson (Wilson) is a rather more laid-back kind of swinging' 70s guy. Strangely, in the movie his character is given a twist which is not true to the original series. In the television show, he was a white knight, with a romantic heart and an eye for the ladies. In the film, he is portrayed as slightly less than honest - with the early scenes showing him as a crooked cop...it works well enough, but I am not sure that it was a necessary plot device.

    The basic plot is almost irrelevant, as the film is really about the period and the characters, but nevertheless it works as a slight crime drama well enough. We get to see the initial pairing of the duo by the frustrated Captain Doby (Fred Williamson) who thinks they are both a couple of loose cannons. When they stumble across a floating corpse, much to the lazy Hutch's chagrin, they are soon on the trail of the pusher of a new brand of cocaine which is undetectable by sniffer dogs. Of course, they will get nowhere without finding out about the "word on the street". Who could be better to help them out than their favourite snitch Huggy Bear? Inevitably they need to go undercover - as a couple of bikers superbly mimicking Easy Rider - to find Big Earl (an hilarious, uncredited cameo from Will Ferrel) who "sews, but he's one tough mother". Their investigation will lead them through the seedy underbelly of Bay City and into contact with the affluent mastermind behind this evil new drug - Reese Feldman (Vince Vaughn).

    Stiller and Wilson are perfectly cast. They have a real chemistry on the screen, as in their previous collaborations (Zoolander and The Royal Tenenbaums amongst others), and deliver wonderful impersonations of the original television actors. Stiller in particular is superb as Starsky - he has the look, the mannerisms and even that classic run down pat. A revelation also is Snoop Dogg as Huggy Bear (the role originally filled by Antonio Fargas). He looks every inch the 1970s pimp and carries off the blaxploitation role with aplomb. Additional weight is provided by the casting of Vaughn (Old School and Swingers) as the archetypal porn-star moustachioed villain, and the talented Juliette Lewis (Kalifornia and Cape Fear) as his lady. The costume and set design is a very strong feature of the movie - I swear the clothes worn look like they have been taken directly out of the original wardrobe from the series. Remember the leather jackets? Remember the souped-up red Ford Gran Torino with the white stripe down the side? Remember the polo-neck sweaters, the bulky cardigans and the jeans with ironed-in creases? They are all here and they are all spot-on. Superb stuff from the set and costume designers!

    I found Starsky & Hutch to be a fun voyage down Memory Lane. Whilst director Todd Phillips (the funny Old School and the slightly less funny Road Trip) adds nothing new to the genre of police movies, he delivers an homage to the 1970s that works very well indeed. I look forward to his next release, which is based on another classic old television show - The Six Million Dollar Man. The star power of Wilson and Stiller is probably strong enough to attract movie-goers too young to remember the original series. For those of us with fond memories of watching the latest episode at prime-time each week, this is popcorn heaven. Personally I feel it improves with repeated viewings. A wittily scripted, cleverly cast, wonderfully designed and highly enjoyable film, it comes heartily recommended for those looking for a tongue-in-cheek buddy cop movie.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Unsurprisingly for such a recent film, the overall video transfer is very good.

    The movie is presented anamorphically enhanced at 2.40:1 which is essentially the same as the 2.39:1 original theatrical aspect ratio.

    The image is satisfyingly sharp with no major pixelisation or grain to spoil the vision. There is some minor softness to the image at times, but I am sure that this was intended to provide a period feel to the flick.

    Black levels are perfectly acceptable with no low level noise to mar the image. Shadow detail is just fine. The colours are solidly rendered with a fitting palette chosen to reflect the 1970s feel. It would have been easy to oversaturate the colours and deliver a hyper-real feel to the film, but this has been cleverly avoided. As the director points out in the commentary, the palette chosen was generally composed of earth tones rather than bright primaries. His intention was that it looked like a film made in the 1970s, rather than a film about the 1970s. It works very well. Skin tones look natural throughout.

    I noticed no issues with MPEG compression artefacts. There was no sign of major aliasing on my system, but if you look really closely Venetian blinds, picture frames and chain-link fences do show a mild shimmer. This may be more noticeable on interlaced systems. Edge enhancement is present, and occasionally noticeable as a halo around the characters, but even on a large projection screen it is not overly distracting. There is no evidence of telecine wobble, but there is some minor camera shake evident at 66:33.

    There are very few film artefacts present in what is a nicely clean transfer.

    The English subtitles are clear and well timed. They include song lyrics and have only minor edits on occasion for the sake of brevity.

    The disc is in a single sided and dual layered (RSDL) format with the brief layer change almost unnoticeable at 66:05.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio transfer is perfectly adequate without being overly impressive.

    The sole English audio track is a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix encoded at 448 kbps. It is free from defects in the way of hiss, distortion and dropouts.

    The dialogue is always perfectly clear and well anchored in the centre channel. There are no significant problems with audio sync.

    Original music is attributed to Theodore Shapiro (Old School and State and Main). It is well designed to match with the period feel, and perfectly evokes the super-fly, disco, race-n-chase feel of the original television series. The film also features a great period soundtrack, with some painfully familiar old kitsch pop songs. Numbers from the likes of The Carpenters and Barry Manilow help to provide a very enjoyable 1970s flashback for the more mature viewer.

    The soundstage for this film is largely frontal in nature. The front speakers deliver a satisfyingly wide spread, with some good nice separation between the three main speakers. Dialogue is clearly rendered and the overall balance of sound ensures it is never drowned out by the musical soundtrack. The surround speakers do get used, but perhaps less dramatically than might be expected from a more traditional cop movie. They see most use in supporting the musical score, but do also provide some minor ambience and directional effects from the car tyres and so on. Overall I thought they could have been used more aggressively.

    There is some LFE activity present from the subwoofer, associated with explosions and car engine noises. In the main the subwoofer carries a fair amount of bass activity and is reasonably well used without being dramatically impressive.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are a few decent extras on offer, not least an excellent commentary track.

Menu

    The anamorphically enhanced menus are well themed. They incorporate video clips and dialogue sound bites from the movie in a kitsch mosaic effect. The main menu offers the options of playing the film, selecting one of a healthy thirty-one chapter stops, activating the subtitles, selecting English or Spanish audio tracks and viewing the following extra features:

Commentary Track

    Director Todd Phillips provides a genuinely informative and quite entertaining scene-specific commentary. I'm not usually a huge fan of these tracks, but I enjoyed this one rather a lot and it genuinely adds extra value to the film in my view. It is presented in Dolby Digital 1.0 encoded at an unusually low, but perfectly serviceable, 96 kbps.

Fashion Fa Shizzle with Huggy Bizzle

    This bizarrely named featurette runs for only 2:42 and is presented letterboxed with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps. Snoop Dogg discusses the fashions worn by his Huggy Bear character in the movie.

Last Look Special

    A typical EPK piece, albeit a bit more tongue-in-cheek than usual, running for 9:20. It is presented at 1.33:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps. It is mildly amusing in parts.

Deleted Scenes

    Running for 6:32 in total, the following scenes are presented letterboxed with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps:

Gag Reel

    Some quite funny bloopers from the film running for 5:00, presented letterboxed with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps.

Theatrical Trailer

    Presented letterboxed with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps. It runs for 2:27.

Easter Egg

    Vince Vaughn chats humorously but inanely with a security guard about seventies television shows for 2:49 specially for the DVD. Presented letterboxed with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps. It can be accessed by (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) selecting the large star on the bonus features menu.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 (and Region 2) release of this movie seems to be substantially the same as our own. The Region 1 release does appear to have been cropped to 2.35:1 however, so the Region 4 release wins by a nose.

Summary

    Starsky & Hutch is a fine little movie. Some reviews have been lukewarm, but I found this to be a very well scripted, designed and acted homage to the 1970s television show. Wilson and Stiller put in sterling performances with a great supporting cast (especially Snoop Dogg and Will Ferrel). This is not much of a cop movie, but is genuinely funny, warm and witty spoof of the 1970s cop shows. As far as this reviewer is concerned, this film comes highly recommended as a rental, and will be worth a purchase for fans of the original show or the work of Ben Stiller and Todd Phillips.

    The video transfer is very good overall.

    The audio transfer is very good but not quite as dynamic as it might have been.

    Extras include a very enjoyable audio commentary and some short featurettes.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel O'Donoghue (You think my bio is funny? Funny how?)
Sunday, August 15, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDMomitsu V880 upconverting DVI player, using DVI output
DisplaySanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR600 with DD-EX and DTS-ES
SpeakersJensenSPX-9 fronts, Jensen SPX-13 Centre, Jensen SPX-5 surrounds, Jensen SPX-17 subwoofer

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Comments (Add)
The cinematic souffle... - SkippyMoletester REPLY POSTED
Starsky & Hutch reunion movie - Christopher