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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Tag Archives: Henry T. Yamada

Starsky & Hutch (2004)

Probably the tamest movie I’ve ever seen that says “coke” about 15 times. And I’m not referring to the soda, although if it were the late 1800’s, I would be referring to both I guess, right?

Detective David Starsky (Ben Stiller) is all about following the rules, getting the job, and having the law come out on-top, at any means necessary; Detective Ken “Hutch” Hutchinson (Owen Wilson) is far different in the way that he’s so cool, calm, relaxed, and mellowed-out, that he doesn’t really care if he gets the job done or not, he just wants to look cool and smokin’. They’re polar-opposites, but they get strung together somehow and have to solve a drug-ring of coke on the streets, lead by millionaire Reese Feldman (Vince Vaughn). Together, they have their fair-share of problems, but together, through the insistence on getting along and the help of their ears and eyes of the street, Huggy Bear (Snoop Dogg), they finally realize that the law always prevails. Or something of that nature.

It’s strange to think that a man who has been known for his fair share of R-rated, raunch-fests, Todd Phillips, would ever stoop so low as to go for a PG-13. But somehow, with this, he did and his struggle with actually trying to keep to that rating without over-stepping it at all. As I said up-top, there’s plenty uses of the word “coke” and nothing but; girls make-out with other girls; the F-bomb is dropped once (and randomly); partial-nudity is seen (sort of); and the word “shit” gets dropped about 5 or 6 times. It’s just strange because we know that when Phillips turns on the dirty-jets, he has a fun time and lets loose like no other, but what we mostly know is that when he does get down and dirty: he’s a lot funnier as well.

Whatta fun time!

Whatta fun time!

And trust me, it’s not that this flick isn’t funny, because it sure as hell does have it’s moments of comedic-inspiration that are more than likely going to win you over; it’s just that the tone itself is a bit uneven. What I mean by that is that the flick tries to go for a satire of an episode of the original Starsky & Hutch, and at other times, seems like it’s trying to be a straight-forward comedy that makes up it’s own jokes, is in it’s own little universe, and doesn’t even know about the other show. Hell, it even plays out like a failed-pilot of the original, except with more knowing-humor and a switch-up of the lead characters.

Since the movie never seems like it knows what it wants to be, or how for that matter, some comedy hits and some of it misses. More of it hits than actually misses, but knowing what Stiller, Wilson, Vaughn, Ferrell, and even Phillips are capable of, it comes as a bit of a disappointment. The jokes they use get a bit stale after awhile, especially the part where Starsky is high on cocaine and gets into a dance-battle, even though he doesn’t know he’s high, and become the same old, “70’s-fashion-was-so-corny”-type of humor. Nothing as witty or as smart as Zoolander or even Old School here, just a bunch of repetitive jokes made towards the decade it’s apparently supposed to take place in, even if it feels like we’re just watching a bunch of current-Hollywood stars play dress-up and act like their in the 70’s. I don’t know if being a tad bit anachronistic was the movie’s point or not, but if it was; it probably would have been a lot smarter and funnier in that case.

But in all honesty, I can’t discredit this movie too much cause the cast seems to be having fun and is mostly the reasons why we find ourselves laughing at times, despite it seeming a bit desperate at times. Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson are seemingly playing Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson. They both seem to be enjoying themselves, not having to stretch their acting-muscles all that much, and getting a chance to dress in some fine, sexy 70’s digs. Together, they’re a bunch of fun and keep this movie cracking, but after awhile, you start to think how much of this movie was made because they really wanted to make a Starsky & Hutch movie, or how much of it was made as an excuse for the two to pal-around with one another? One has to wonder, and sometimes, it feels like the latter-aspect. It’s fun to watch them, but it feels like their having a bit more fun than we are and that poses a problem, especially when they’re trying to steal the laughs out of you.

Come on! Gimme more!

Come on! Gimme more!

On paper, having Vince Vaughn do his spastic, fast-speech act and Jason Bateman do his dead-pan act, team together, and play the smart, but slightly off-kilter baddies in a movie would seem like comedic-brilliance, but it never musters up any of the courage to really keep them funny or relevant all that much. Vaughn seems like he’s bored being serious and conning, whereas Bateman actually seems like he’s bored, and isn’t just using that to his and his character’s advantage. He actually seems like he’s bored and wants to get his check, so he could get the hell home and get ready to film another season of Arrested Development. Also, any movie that has thew chance to showcase Juliette Lewis and her comedic-talents as the dumb, trashy-chick in the movie, but squander that potential, has seemingly all but lost points from yours truly. The girl is not only a foxy mama, but she’s pretty damn funny, especially when she’s given the chance to be.

Others in this cast that show up do what they can like Snoop Dogg, who actually has some of the funnier-moments in the whole flick of funny people; Carmen Electra and Amy Smart show up to only make-out and provide some sex-appeal for a movie that didn’t need any, and when it finally got it’s chance to showcase it, made it seem more misogynistic than titillating; and actual cameos from the original guys, David Soul and Paul Michael Glaser, who made it funny just being there, but once I got to thinking about it, made it almost seem like the film was making fun of them and how hell-bent-out-of-shape they seem to have gotten. Poor guys. Oh well, they probably got a nice, healthy paycheck from this. Just like Bateman. Although, needless to say, he probably made that paycheck last.

Consensus: Bits and pieces of Starsky & Hutch seem inspired enough to transpire plenty of inspired moments of comedy, but not too many as the flick struggles to make up it’s mind of what type of comedy it wants to be, or even make us laugh at all.

6 / 10

"1, 2, 3 and to tha 4, Huggy Bear is at tha doe."

“One, two, three and to tha foe, Huggy Bear is at tha doe.”

Photo’s Credit to: Thecia.Com.Au

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Shopgirl (2005)

Leo was such a better fit for her.

‘Shopgirl’ follows Mirabelle (Claire Danes), a disenchanted salesgirl and aspiring artist who sells gloves and accessories at a department store. She has two men in her life: wealthy divorcee Ray Porter (Steve Martin) and struggling musician Jeremy (Jason Schwartzman).

I guess since Steve Martin hasn’t produced a hit in the last ten years or so, that he just ended up writing novellas to keep his mind off things. But, once again, he brings himself back to the big-screen to made us realize just why he should go back to being Inspector Clouseau — as painful as it may be to actually say.

That first paragraph right there makes it seem like I didn’t like this movie, which is wrong; because I did like this movie. However, it was only  certain aspects that seemed to make it work. The mood was pretty good right from the start where we get this somewhat ‘Lost in Translation’ feel where these characters are desperately lost and searching for love anywhere they can find it in L.A.; and it works well for that time being. I also think that some scenes worked mainly thanks to a lot of Martin’s ideas. Like one scene in particular where Mirabelle is telling all of her gal pals that Porter is so into the relationship, but he’s telling his therapist the total opposite. It’s a great way to show how two people’s words can get misinterpreted by the other and it works by showing us that not all relationships we have are going to be exactly the way we want them.

I won’t lie, I did feel a little strange when I thought about the whole idea of Steve Martin (59 at the time) and Claire Danes (26 at the time), actually shakin’ up but I also have to realize that yes, this sort of stuff does happen in real-life. It’s obvious that there are girls out there who do agree to dating and sleeping with older men with money but that doesn’t really mean I want to see it on-screen — let alone done in a way as shallow as this. The whole idea behind this relationship between these two is that she needs and wants love, whereas he wants to give her stuff without ever really having to give her anything. When I say anything, I mean anything. This guy has just maybe one big conversation with her on their first date, where he just asks her three dumb questions. After that, we barely see those two ever talk again. All they do is just mope around, mutter on about when they are going to see each other again, and wonder to themselves if they are really being loved by the other. Then, it gets worse because the film tries to get us to really feel something for this relationship and make us feel the pain that Mirabelle is feeling with this guy, but the whole time I just kept on thinking that she should just freakin’ get rid of the sugar daddy and find some young, hot dude because it’s pretty obvious that she can get whoever she wants. I mean it’s freakin’ Juliet Capulet we’re talking about here people!

The film gets categorized as a romantic comedy but it has some moments of actual comedy and that’s only thanks to Jason Schwartzman as Jeremy. This guy is pretty much the saving grace to this flick because he has perfect comedic timing, is terribly awkward in almost every single one of his scenes, and also seems like the perfect fit for Mirabelle which is why it makes me scratch my head even more that she would go for an older dickhead like Porter. Either way though, Schwartzman definitely makes this film better every time he pops up on-screen and even though it’s a bit weird that the film itself goes on this weird tangent about him touring with this band, it didn’t matter after awhile because it was so fun to watch him just act like a goof ball no matter where he was.

Claire Danes is also very good as Mirabelle and gives off this very old school vibe to her, almost even channeling a young Mary Tyler Moore. She seems like she can be a bit naïve and stupid at points, but the other times she seems like a genuinely sad character that just needs some excitement and love in her life. I’m not much of a fan of Danes since I think all of that shit she did with Billy Crudup back in the day was messed up but I can still say that she gives off a pretty good performance here.

Last but not least, the main problem with this film is actually Steve Martin himself as Ray Porter; because as much of a dick as this character can be, Martin is not very good at playing this type of character. To call Porter unsympathetic is an understatement, he’s a straight-up dick about everything with Mirabelle and definitely doesn’t deserve her one bit. That’s why Martin isn’t the right choice for Porter considering he has the channel off all of that goofiness that makes us love him in the first place. Having a somebody like Michael Douglas, Gene Hackman, or even Al Pacino would have been fine too because these guys are good at playing rich, wealthy scumbags that obviously don’t care but I guess they thought it would be easier to go with the guy that made the source material himself since he’s so close to it, right? Nope! Go back to solving crimes about Beyonce’s lost ring, Steve!

Consensus: Shopgirl definitely features some moments that are smart and work, but they are too spread apart from one another and the character’s love stories didn’t generate as much heat as the film tried to shove down our throats. However, Jason Schwartzman makes it all better in the end.

5/10=Rental!!