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Stiller, Wilson Bring 70s Police Show to Silver Screen in <i>Starsky And Hutch</i> - 2004-03-11

A 1970s TV show gets a light-hearted big screen treatment with Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson co-starring as the title characters. Alan Silverman has a look at the new Starsky And Hutch.

Dave Starsky is a by-the-book, dedicated police detective. Ken Hutchinson would rather skip a few chapters in that book and just have a good time.

Ben Stiller, who co-stars as Starsky, says he has fond memories of the original TV show that starred Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul.

"I was about 10 years old when it came on the air so I was the target demographic, I think; and we would play it all the time," recalls Stiller. "For me, an impetus for doing the movie was that it would be so much fun to do this because I used to do it for fun as a kid."

Owen Wilson brings his drawl and droll humor to the character of Hutch, but he says the film is not meant as a spoof of the TV series.

"We didn't go into it thinking we were going to make a parody because I didn't really think of the show as a parody. I remember thinking it was really cool," says Wilson. "Obviously this is like funny and when you go back and see the show now there is funny stuff; but a lot of that is kind of the nature of it being in the 70's and it's different now. We just tried to honor what David Soul and Paul Michael Glaser created . . . and then make it a little bit funnier."

That's hip hop music star Snoop Dogg as Huggy Bear, the well-dressed informant who always has the info the two undercover cops need to get the bad guys.

"I was a fan of the TV show. As a kid I watched it a lot. I used to run home from school to check it out," he says. "You know, I'm a kid from the '70's, so Starsky And Hutch, What's Happening, Good Times, The Jeffersons ... TV shows like that, we had to watch them; and I liked Huggy Bear. He was sharp and he was a cool dude."

Director Todd Phillips, whose previous films include the hit comedies Old School and Road Trip, praises what he calls the "comedic chemistry" between Stiller and Wilson; and, although there is action - it is about police officers, after all, - Phillips says he didn't not try to make an action film.

"We were obviously making a funny movie, so I did not want to suddenly try to compete with the level of action in The Matrix or a Jerry Bruckheimer movie or even in Charlie's Angels. I always used the words 'low fi' [low fidelity]. I wanted to make a low-fi action movie ... that looked like it could have been made in 1975," he explains. "People didn't climb up walls and flip over each other and do all these weird, fancy martial arts moves in 1975. We wanted to make a movie where the 'action' was you punch a guy in the stomach and you throw him through a window. So in everything costume, music, set design and what actually happens in the movie we wanted to keep it true to that."

Co-stars Wilson and Stiller have different approaches to comedy, but that does not mean they are like their characters ... too much.

Wilson: There is not that much of an identification with the way Starsky sort of begins the movie as this uptight guy and Ben in real life. There is something to the fact that I am from Texas so Ben will accuse me of not taking things as seriously. Sometimes I resent that because he kind of positions himself as this workaholic and everyone else is not.

Stiller: No, it just that sometimes there is a looseness that Owen has ...

Wilson: You don't change that. If you lose the looseness you lose 80 percent of what I'm about.

Stiller: Things like knowing your lines or showing up on time fall under the category of looseness with Owen.

Starsky And Hutch also features Vince Vaughn as the villain. Amy Smart and Carmen Electra play cheerleaders the two heroes date; and there's a surprise cameo by Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul, the aging stars of the original TV show.