Directed by Ron Shelton
Written by Robert Souza & Ron Shelton
You can’t spell Hollywood Homicide with out the letters “Ho-Hom.” All right, all right. I know that falls short of actually being a joke, but that is the same problem Hollywood Homicide suffers from. It falls short of being a comedy. There are some amusing moments, but at no point did I laugh out loud. Even with all the negative press, I was holding out hope because Ron Shelton is a talented guy, but this movie felt like it didn’t know what it wanted to be and so the result is this uneven mess. What is most infuriating of all is that the movie is just average; its bad moments counterbalanced by the good ones, so it’s not even a good, bad movie. I get no pleasure in not liking it.
It’s a buddy cop film that wants to be a comedy. Harrison Ford plays Gavilan, who moonlights as a real estate agent. This was a nice character touch, which had a couple of funny moments like him handing out the wrong business cards to witnesses and negotiating a sale during a car chase, but there’s not a whole lot else to his character. He has three ex-wives, but they never enter into the movie. Not that they needed to be integral to the plot, but they could have provided opportunities for humor, character insight, something. It’s nice to see Ford not play Ford for a change. Hopefully, Ford will get more chances to try different things, but the box office might hinder that.
Another characteristic of Gavilan is that he loves Motown and his pager is set to My Girl. It’s supposed to be funny as it relentlessly goes off all during the movie, which it isn’t, but it does help illustrate another example of a missed opportunity. Smokey Robinson has a cameo as a taxi driver. When Ford commandeers his vehicle, I was waiting for the beeper to go off but it never does. The man who wrote My Girl is sitting right there, and yet the writer/director has the beeper ring in every other scene except this one?! Maybe it was a cut scene saved as an extra on the DVD, but the only people who should sit through this movie twice are the face cards from the Iraqi deck if they don’t tell us what we want to know.
Josh Hartnett plays Gavilan’s partner, K.C. Calden. He moonlights as a yoga instructor who teaches only hot chicks, with the bonus that he gets to nail some of them. Nice idea for a porno, but lame in this instance. His true desire is to be an actor, which provides another almost funny scene, when during a showcase he performs a scene from A Streetcar Named Desire as Stanley. The showcase is supposed to go bad, but there’s more unintentional comedy at high school productions, so it’s another scene that falls short. Other than that, there’s not much to his character either.
The plot has Gavilan and Calden investigate the killing of a rap group. I know what you’re thinking, a topic ripe for comedy. When it’s found out that the group was going to leave their label, the only suspect becomes the owner of their record label. He’s in league with a bad cop, who is given a significant back-story about being the same cop who killed Calden’s father years ago. Wow! This seems like a huge chunk of information to get second hand, but the movie does the same thing to Gavilan.
Lt. Bennie Macko, an Internal Affairs officer hates Gavilan because of a run-in they had before the movie started, is investigating Gavilan for some reason that’s not perfectly clear. There’s something about call girls and money, but there’s nothing going on there. The madam is only in the movie to offer some deus ex machina to help move the plot along, and Macko’s presence is an attempt to add conflict and tension.
What makes things even odder is that this story takes place in Los Angeles, a city with a large population, yet unbeknownst to Gavilan he is sleeping with Macko’s ex. It is nice to see Ford with an actress close to his age, but how could this happen when the city has a population of over 3.5 million? All she adds is more phony conflict because nothing comes from their tryst since Macko already hated Gavilan; however, she also provides her own deus ex machina. She’s a radio psychic, and when the guys have lost their suspect and run out of leads, she takes them to a store in Beverly Hills where she starts shopping. While the men wait, the bad guys drive by and the car chase resumes, proving her powers work.
All the bad guys are punished. Things work out for the best for our heroes. That’s a quick way to wrap up the review, but certainly an apt reflection of the movie’s resolutions. Ford and Hartnett are good actors but they don’t seem to be able to bring anything to the role that isn’t on the page. And unfortunately, Souza & Shelton don’t have much on the page. It’s an odd mix of jokes and action that don’t mix well because the jokes aren’t that funny and the action is nothing special. Instead you should look at Shelton’s previous film, the drama Dark Blue, set in Los Angeles during the riots.