Hollywood Homicide (2003) / Action-Comedy
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for violence, sexual situations, and language
Running Time: 116 min.
Cast: Harrison Ford, Josh Hartnett, Bruce Greenwood, Lena Olin, Isaiah Washington, Lolita Davidovich, Keith David, Dwight Yoakam
Director: Ron Shelton
Screenplay: Robert Souza, Ron Shelton
Review published November 7, 2003
Hollywood Homicide is nothing new in the world of buddy cop movies. In fact, it is a prime example of the formula. There's the two eccentric partners, lots of side gags, and a very boring plot. It has all of the strengths and all of the weaknesses that the formula requires, but like almost any formula, it tends to work if you manage to do it well. Hollywood Homicide may not be the freshest cop film to come down the pipe, but it clearly was created to entertain more than anything else, and on that level, it succeeds in its goal.
Ford plays Joe Gavilan, a homicide detective working the eccentric street of Hollywood. Like most people in Hollywood, he has a side career, that of a real estate salesman, and he rarely lets his "day job" interfere with a prospective sale. His partner, K.C. Calden (Hartnett) also has two separate career interests, fitness/yoga instructor and aspiring actor. The film follow the two on a case involving some rappers who have been gunned down, and further clues lead them to suspect that they may have been slain within by someone within the industry.
It's rare when I will recommend a film strictly on the frills and thrills over the main plot, but Hollywood Homicide is all about the side stories. Even when dealing with the main storyline, and in the thick of the climax, the subplots still emerge time and again. Normally, this might detract from the overall experience, but in this case, the main plot is so dull that it would have been a disaster without something to spruce it up. Luckily, Ron Shelton has made a career out of good hybrid comedies, with such fun films as Bull Durham, White Men Can't Jump, and Tin Cup among his more memorably funny efforts. For the screenplay, he enlisted a real-life cop, Robert Souza, who ironically has a side job of his own as a screenwriter, and together they made a modestly entertaining throwaway thriller.
Fans of Harrison Ford will most likely be mixed in their feelings seeing him do a film like this. He does a terrific job, and definitely makes the film fun to watch, but anyone looking for him to return to making great films again will obviously be disappointed that Hollywood Homicide is the kind of mindless fluff he chooses to make nowadays. Hartnett, who struggled with his comedic side in the awful 40 Days and 40 Nights, manages to hold his own playing off of Ford's sardonic demeanor with a refreshingly lighthearted, casual performance.
Hollywood Homicide is the kind of film that you will probably want to wait for video to see. I suspect the tolerance for this kind of thing will meet better reviews for those seeing on the small screen, as it is little more than a big budget cop show. If you like cop flicks with little touches of humor and goofball characterizations, a la Lethal Weapon, Hollywood Homicide is a passable choice. It's all in fun.
©2003 Vince Leo