Directed by Ron Shelton. Starring Harrison Ford, Josh Hartnett, Keith David, Lena Olin, Vyshonne Miller, Master P, Martin Landau, Lolita Davidovich, Bruce Greenwood, Gladys Knight. (2003, PG-13, 111 min.)
REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., June 13, 2003
Good looks can forgive almost anything. Art has proven that point time and again (pretty, dimwitted Christian gets the girl, Cyrano a heavy blow to the head), as has history (Mira Sorvino nabs the gold in ‘96, Joan Allen goes home with an Academy gift basket). Fact is, good looks will go a long way in masking mediocrity, and Hollywood Homicide capitalizes on that fact doubly so: Co-writer/director Ron Shelton’s latest boasts two pretty faces, and all across the country, mothers and daughters sigh alike. No one’s going to accuse Hollywood Homicide of being a terribly good movie, but at least it has brokered – however briefly – peace between two generations: Mom gets Harrison Ford, daughter gets Josh Hartnett, everybody goes home happy. That’s because good looks can also force a sort of temporary amnesia – all full up with happy boy-toy thoughts, one might forget just how lackluster the film really is. Hartnett and Ford star as two homicide detectives hunting down the killer of a breakout hip-hop act. They’re both a little distracted, though: Hartnett’s K.C. Calden is a part-time yoga instructor with acting ambitions, while Ford’s Joe Gavilan is a frustrated real estate agent (and, in a time when the LAPD is so reviled, how, um, ballsy is it of Shelton to feature one of the boys in blue handing his card to a murder suspect?). As the two get closer to breaking the case, the subplots pile up: K.C. wants to know the truth behind his cop father’s murder a decade ago; Joe’s trying to seal a million-dollar deal during a car chase; and Internal Affairs is sniffing around the both of them. Those are just three of the ancillary stories Shelton is tracking here, none very successfully. The murder case is a bore, especially with its tired rap clichés, and the final chase sequence, while cleverly charted, drags on way too long. Doubtful any of this will bother you much until after the fog has lifted, however; until then, one can just sit back and bask in the goofy charms of the lead actors. Ford works his rumpled, sourpuss routine to the nth degree here, but then, national treasures are allowed that sort of leeway. And speaking of ballsy, let’s salute a sixtysomething Hollywood actor who is willing not only to have a love interest – Lena Olin – a mere 14 years younger (that’s leaps and bound over his 27-year age gap with onetime co-star Anne Heche), but also eagerly delivers lines like, "If I take my gingko, I can still remember where I put the Viagra." Hartnett, too, is fun to watch, especially as he bellows out in boxer shorts "Stellaaaaaaaa!" in preparation for his big acting showcase. Both shine in the film’s comedic stretches (especially during a loopy sequence when they are interviewed separately by Internal Affairs), as does Shelton, who poked fun at characters in similarly machismo-overrun professions in Tin Cup, Bull Durham, and White Men Can’t Jump to great success. Would that Shelton had scrapped more of the action and murder mystery from this action/comedy/murder mystery hybrid, and focused instead on the comedic skills of his star players. Hartnett and Ford are game, all right, but everyone else is phoning it in from the bench.