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March 08, 2004 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-03-08

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March 8,2004




Mortensen falls short of victory

By Justin Weiner
Daily Arts Writer
Why does Hollywood always
mess with success? The story of
Frank Hopkins, the famed horse-

man, endurance
racer and subject
of the film
"Hidalgo," needs
no modification
or addition to
become an excit-
ing film. Yet, the

At Quality 16,
Showcase and
Buena Vista
ever-wise execu-

tives at Buena Vista added many
fictitious events and characters to
"Hidalgo," doing it much more
harm than help.
So many different plots are jum-
bled into this film that it's difficult
actually to describe the story. In


part, it's a recreation of Frank Hop-
kins's (Viggo Mortensen) race
across the Arabian Desert upon his

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horse. This tale alone would make
for a very compelling film, but it
seems pushed aside by other plot
elements. Short interludes of Hop-
kins wavering on his horse in the
desert heat are interspersed between
longer, less interesting scenes.
Most of the movie's two hours
and 15 minutes focuses on the many
subplots. Attempts by director Joe
Johnston ("Jurassic Park III") to
explore the character and motiva-
tions of Hopkins are too heavy-
handed and often boring. A
complicated (and silly) adventure
with a sheikh's daughter further
detracts from what should have been
the main adventure - the race
across the desert.
This part of the story would have
been mildly entertaining were it not
for the fact that it stereotypes Arabs
and the Islamic faith. For a film
that claims to be based on a true
story, "Hidalgo's" mischaracteriza-
tion of Arabs is downright offen-
sive. It's odd that this sort of
material appears in the film, given
that its ample screen time is used in
part to show how Native Americans
were miscast as villains at the turn
of the century.
Amidst all of this, there is a film
about a man courageously riding his
horse to victory in a daunting race.
These portions of "Hidalgo" are
shot beautifully and do manage to
create some drama. Adding to this
is the character of Hopkinsr who
seems to be custom built for a Dis-
ney drama.
Mortensen does a great job of
portraying Hopkins. His subtle cow-
boy mannerisms and slow drawl
make him quite endearing.
Mortensen walks, talks, and acts
like a cowboy hero, and, in doing so,
he nearly saves the film.
It's too bad that Mortensen is sur-
rounded by a cast of over-actors and
burdened with cliche dialogue. The
most engaging scenes of the film
are often overshadowed by the
mindless ones. "Hidalgo" has all the
makings of a classic adventure story
but, unfortunately, it too often falls
short of the lofty expectations of
great historical epics.

Courtesy of
Warner Bros. I:
to the
By Ryan Lewis
Daily Arts Writer

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Oh, what could have been! The setup was perfect and
ready for a knockout punch line. Just the idea of Ben Stiller
and Owen Wilson in the seemingly custom-tailored roles of
"Starsky & Hutch" brought on many giddy chuckles. But
the joke is an old one, hindered by its
own repetitiveness, and the punch line
falls flat. Starsky &
Sadly, director Todd Phillips's ("Old Hutch
School") latest bit of shenanigans, At Quality 16 and
though at times funny, proves only one Showcase
thing: The well of shtick that made Warner Bros.
Stiller and Wilson so endearing to
audiences has been drawn from a bit too often. The recy-
cled comedic interplay between the duo is less the refresh-
ing dose of dry wit than a poor attempt at a Letterman
impersonation, using the same joke again and again.
However, thanks to Phillips and his creative team,
Stiller as David Starsky and Wilson as Ken Hutchinson
still have a bit of spark left over, and the supporting cast
somewhat revitalizes the feature version of the hipster,
disco-era cop show.
Starsky is your average anal-retentive cop. The son of
one of Bay City's most cherished blues, he is the enemy of
any perp. After chasing a purse snatcher halfway across
town, and discharging a semi-automatic en route, Starsky's
punishment is to be teamed up with Hutch, a lackadaisical,
all-nonsense, work-the-system cop.

As they begin to grow on each other, the rumblings of a
record-breaking drug deal surface, courtesy of Hutch's
informant Huggy Bear (Snoop Dogg). Rampaging through-
out town, they come across a new, untraceable and unscent-
ed brand of cocaine, and standing at the center of their
investigation is business mogul Reese Feldman (Vince
Vaughn). The requisite chases and explosions of "Starsky &
Hutch" ensue.
Where the plot is overly formulaic, the cameos, along
with Snoop and Vaughn, have all the quirkiness audi-
ences have come to expect from Stiller and Wilson.
Vaughn and Phillips accompany each other perfectly, as
their styles mesh once again after Vaughn's comedic
resurgence in "Old School." Snoop's character is the
most enjoyable, with an off beat style and suave intelli-
gence that are a welcome retreat from the overarching
comedic atmosphere.
Other notable bit players include the always impressive
Will Ferrell, Carmen Electra, Amy Smart, Chris Penn, Juli-
ette Lewis and Jason Bateman, with David Soul and Paul
Michael Glaser (the original Hutch and Starsky) providing
a special little passing of the torch. Yet, what most redeems
"Starsky & Hutch" are the set pieces, especially the signa-
ture 1974 Ford Torino with racing stripes.
Usually, in this type of film where the plot is underdevel-
oped and the subplots riddled with holes, the laugh-out-
loud slapstick and chuckle-worthy satire make the trite
story forgivable. But this humor just doesn't hit when it
should. Most of the 97 minutes are spent waiting for that
punch-line that never comes. Unfortunately, the remake that
once seemed so promising can't fall back on the laurels of
its stars, and that makes all the difference.

... a,

0 d l M " w


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