We're a culture of TV watchers, and there's nothing inherently wrong with that. But do we have to bring TV with us everywhere, even to the movies? If "Starsky & Hutch," directed by Todd Phillips ("Old School"), the latest in a long, frayed string of movies based on old TV shows, held up on the big screen, there'd be no need to complain. Good movies can come from anywhere: Their quality can't be measured by the sparks that inspired them in the first place.
But "Starsky & Hutch" moves slowly and without much grace; it tries to jiggle laughs out of us instead of letting them flow freely. It has no reason to exist other than as a kind of hat rack for the filmmakers and stars to hang quotation marks on, and they overload it. Puffy hairstyles, bad nylon shirts, leather-thong necklaces: If these relics of the '70s still get yuks out of you, then "Starsky & Hutch" is your movie, because the gags written around them (in a script by Philips, John O'Brien and Scot Armstrong) don't amount to much.
Ben Stiller is David Starsky (played by Paul Michael Glaser in the original series), a detective in the fictional California locale of Bay City. Starsky does everything by the book, going after even minor thugs, like purse-snatchers, with gusto. ("In Bay City, when you cross the line, your nuts are mine!" he explains in a stern voiceover.) The much looser Ken "Hutch" Hutchinson (Owen Wilson) is assigned to be his partner: Hutch is the kind of cop who, upon discovering a dead body washed up on the shores of Bay City, tries to poke it away with a big stick so the current will carry it down to the next district. (David Soul played Hutch in the series; he and Glaser have small cameos here as well.)
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