Picks and Pans Review: Starsky & Hutch

updated 03/15/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/15/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn, Snoop Dogg

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In an age of disposable lighters, cameras and contact lenses, it's no surprise that Hollywood keeps churning out throwaway movies. Watch 'em and, figuratively, toss 'em. Latest case in point: Starsky & Hutch, a playful spoof of the disco-era cop show (1975-79) of the same name, a series that fits neatly into the TV pantheon somewhere between Adam-12 and Miami Vice.

Stiller plays the uptight Dave Starsky (Paul Michael Glaser's role in the original), a police detective in fictional Bay City who reluctantly teams with loosey-goosey Ken Hutchinson (David Soul way back when; Wilson now) to catch a smarmy drug dealer (Vaughn). Periodically, the pair consult with Huggy Bear (Dogg), a sartorially resplendent "businessman" who informs on rivals in exchange for Starsky and Hutch's over-looking his own shady dealings.

Starsky provides a steady stream of laughs and frolicsome turns by a willing cast. Period. A new paint job can't transform a Ford Gran Torino (Starsky's wheels of choice) into a Rolls-Royce. Familiarity with the television show helps in appreciating some of the film's more arcane bits (our heroes masquerading as mimes) but isn't necessary to get most of the jokes. Stiller and Wilson, who previously paired in Meet the Parents, Zoolander and The Royal Tenenbaums, cruise through Starsky, fondly lampooning their characters' tics, pouffy dos and penchant for wearing tight jeans and leather jackets. Wilson, in particular, with his offbeat timing and shaggy charm, is winning. As for Snoop, it's more as if he floats through on a cloud of cool than gives an actual performance. (PG-13)

THRILLER

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