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When you remake a well known television show into a motion picture, there are two options- play it straight or play it for laughs. With Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson in the title roles, it is obvious that the filmmakers have chosen the latter for STARSKY & HUTCH ($28). However, instead of being a flat out spoof, STARSKY & HUTCH displays a genuine sense of warm affection as it gently pokes fun at the conventions of the 1970s and cop shows from that period. Ben Stiller is a hoot as the straight-laced, uptight police detective David Starsky who finds himself unexpectedly partnered with Owen Wilsonís freewheeling loose cannon Ken Hutchinson.

The discovery of a body floating in the bay puts Starsky & Hutch on the scent of Reese Feldman (Vince Vaughn), a respected businessman, whom our two police detectives come to suspect of being a big time drug dealer. Of course, proving Feldman illegal activities turns out to be another matter entirely, which leads our heroes to more than a few hilarious moments. The cast of STARSKY & HUTCH also features Snoop Dogg as a perfectly decked out Huggy Bear, in addition to Fred Williamson, Juliette Lewis, Jason Bateman, Amy Smart, Carmen Electra and an uncredited and always amusing Will Ferrell.

Warner Home Video has made STARSKY & HUTCH available on DVD in a 2.35:1 widescreen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays (a separate full screen version is also available, but not reviewed here). Not surprisingly, Warner pulls another fine looking widescreen transfer out of their bag of tricks. The image always appears sharp and produces a very good level of definition. Colors are bright and rather nicely saturated, while flesh tones are completely natural. Blacks are accurate, whites are clean, plus the image boasts smooth contrast and a nice dimensional quality. The film elements used for the transfer are very clean and display little appreciable grain. Digital compression artifacts are never a cause for concern.

Because of the action elements, STARSKY & HUTCH comes with a better than expected Dolby Digital 5.1 channel comedy mix. Sure, much of the film is dialogue driven, but the outlying channels are well implemented for the filmís occasional car chases and bits of gunplay. Surround usage isnít in the league of a full fledged action movie, but it is just fine for the material. Seventies era pop music is used frequently on the soundtrack and it all sounds great. Fidelity is terrific, plus there is strong stereo imaging and nice musical reinforcement from the rears. While not constantly active, the bass channel does gets some licks in- sounding forceful enough, without becoming overbearing. Voices sound natural and the dialogue is always easy to understand. A French 5.1 channel track is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a nice complement of supplements. Director/co-writer Todd Phillips is on hand to provide a running audio commentary, and while there are a few lapses, Phillipsí talk proves to be rather interesting. Fashion Fa Shizzle Wit Huggy Bizzle is a roughly three minute look at the serious threads that Snoop Dogg dons for the role of Huggy Bear. The Last Look Special is a nine minute spoof of those nauseating love fest featurettes in which the cast and crew generally talk about just how much they enjoyed working with their co-stars and director. Six minutes worth of Deleted Scenes are also included, as is a Gag Reel and a Theatrical Trailer and bonus DVD previews.

STARSKY & HUTCH is an enjoyable, albeit mild send up of the seventies era cop drama. The DVD looks and sounds just fine, plus it offers a few nice extras. If you enjoy Ben Stiller and Owen Wilsonís brand of humor, or you were a fan of the original television series youíll get a kick out of STARSKY & HUTCH.



Starsky & Hutch (Widescreen Edition) (2004)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2004 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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