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Feature: Starsky and Hutch
Just Do It!
With the release of the Starsky and Hutch movie on DVD, we got together with director Todd Philips and comedy actors Ben Stiller and Luke Wilson and discovers that one can’t drive and the other’s about as trustworthy as a hungry goat in a newspaper factory.
From September 1975 to August 1979, Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul starred as David Starsky and Ken ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson, on the popular TV series Starsky and Hutch. Their ground-breaking portrayal of two cops in Bay City, California, who didn’t always follow the rules, using unorthodox methods to solve crimes, became a template for many shows that followed, including Miami Vice.
On March 5, 2004 the movie version opened to decent reviews and good box office, amassing $87.1 million for its US run. Now it’s back on the small screen, as the DVD is about to be released.
What director Todd Phillips did so cleverly in bringing Starsky and Hutch to the big screen was to keep the story set in the ’70s, although he admits that the thought of updating the material was contemplated.
“We started talking about it because it was a budgetary thing, we just thought it would be cost prohibitive to do it in the ’70s. But then we started watching a lot of the old episodes and really getting into it, and realized that so much of what’s funny to us about it was the time.
“I felt like it was really important that you love the cops in this movie, and I think in the ’70s, in a weird way, people had a different attitude about cops than they do nowadays. The cops in the ’70s were a little cooler. The show was serious then and that’s why I wanted to treat it seriously. Funny situations happen in the movie, but we play the guys pretty straight and let funny things happen to them – that was the tone we wrestled with.”
And speaking of ‘straight’, Phillips quips, “Basically, I describe it as a romantic comedy between two straight men. It sort of follows the beats of a typical romantic comedy in that they don’t really get along at first, they start to get along, they break up and then they come back together for a better union than ever. But in this case it’s two straight guys going through those same beats.”
Ben Stiller, who eerily portrays David Starsky á la Paul Michael Glaser, was attached to the production from the beginning, and quickly brought his friend Owen Wilson on board to play Hutch, making it their sixth collaboration.
“It seemed a natural choice,” says Stiller, “because we do have a friendship and the basis of Starsky and Hutch’s whole relationship was that they liked and trusted each other. Now, I don’t trust Owen – not for a second – but I do like him and I find him entertaining, so really, minus the trust thing, it’s a very similar sort of relationship.”
Wilson explains the reason he felt he secured the role. “I think Ben had the idea that I would be good for Hutch because I have blond hair. I don’t think it was anything more complicated than that.”
by Judy Sloane
Get the full interview, plus 'Ultimate Buddy Cops' and facts you didn’t know about the original show, in...
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