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Wild Hogs

The movie manages to stay on course but the DVD's extra features are road kill —Matt Anderson (DVD review...)

Three middle-aged guys drag their Wild Hogs across country

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Critics are already calling Hollywood Homicide “fun” and associating it with the word “summer,” as though expectations and IQs drop just because the temperature rises. Maybe summer fare does deserve a little slack, but Hollywood Homicide asks too much and offers too little, even for the longest and hottest of summers.

It’s the Stupid Plot

Ford commandeers a vehicle and gives pursuit
Ford commandeers a vehicle and gives pursuit

Harrison Ford plays Joe Gavilan, a Hollywood police detective, homicide division. In his long off-hours, he hustles real estate, and not very well. His formula-mandated, mismatched partner is K.C. Calden (Josh Hartnett), who has terrible aim and would rather be an actor.

This comedy opens on a quadruple murder at a nightclub that Gavilan and K.C. are assigned to solve. Also driving the plot are K.C.’s grief over his dead father (also a policeman) and an investigation of Gavilan by Internal Affairs.

The plot is paper-thin, completely disposable, unoriginal, and irrelevant. Strangely, none of the cast, crew, or producers seem to notice. Gladys Knight, in a small cameo, explains the whole thing in about two sentences. One single coincidence is used to wrap up all three of the major plot threads.

It’s Not the Plot, Stupid

But Hollywood Homicide isn’t about the plot, it’s about the personalities.

Harrison Ford is charismatic as ever. Most of the movie’s laughs originate with him. Hunky Hartnett only has to show up, and that’s about all he does. He plays off Ford well enough, trying to learn from the seasoned veteran, but his character feels like no more than the sum his jokes.

Both leads are guaranteed to bring in their audience share — Harrison for the older crowd, Hartnett for the teenagers. The trouble is that the two don’t really seem like they’re interacting. Each does his thing, but there’s no chemistry between them. At least in National Security, the most recent mediocre buddy-cop comedy to come to mind, Steve Zahn and Martin Lawrence fed off each other’s energy. Ford and Hartnett might as well be starring in two separate movies.

Four Laughs, Several Chuckles

So maybe Hollywood Homicide isn’t about the personalities, it’s about the comedy. I did laugh, about four times, along with several chuckles. Gavilan’s car gets stolen, and the perps’ excuse is unexpected and funny. During a chase Gavilan is intent on commandeering a vehicle, but when a burly man won’t let him have his van, Gavilan picks on someone smaller.

But Hollywood Homicide is hardly lighthearted. Six people are murdered, and its hilarious finale has the bad guy falling to his death 12 stories below into a steel dumpster. And the scene of two white cops taking a black suspect to the “dock precinct” for “interrogation” was just a little too disturbing for my friend to find funny.

Dark Blue Lite

Had I known a few facts about the movie, I might have appreciated it more. For example, it was written by director Ron Shelton and Robert Souza, a former homicide detective. The two had collaborated on last year’s Dark Blue, about corruption in the L.A.P.D. Many of the off-duty insights into Gavilan’s and K.C.’s lives (like always carrying an 8 x 10 glossy headshot in case you find yourself questioning a producer) came from Souza’s own experience.

Bear that in mind and maybe you’ll enjoy the movie more than I did. My audience laughed more than I did. They even thought the donut joke was funny. So maybe Hollywood Homicide really is “summer fun.”

But if that’s all you’re looking for, I still think you’re better off seeing Finding Nemo or The Italian Job again and letting Hollywood Homicide die a natural death.