starring Harrison Ford and that prettyboy, whatsisface, Josh Hartnett
Here's the comedy premise for Hollywood Homicide. Are you ready? Can you dig it? Here it is: Harrison Ford and Josh Hartnett are Hollywood cops, and so, like everyone else in Hollywood, they're always trying to upgrade to something better, which entails receiving a lot of extra-curricular phone calls when they're on the job.
That is the idea. That is the joke. They investigate a gangsta-rap murder but are constantly interrupted by their cell phones, Ford taking calls on the realty business he runs on the side while Hartnett tries to land auditions because he wants to be an actor.
As a comedy movie, this could have worked. As premises go, it's okay, it's a pretty straight-ahead wacky idea. The odd thing, though, is that while the movie has a comedy premise, neither Ford nor Hartnett play comedy roles. That is, neither of their characters are funny people. Hartnett is young, good-looking and bland while Ford is old, weathered and grumpy. Comedy characters get caught up in their untenable solutions and intensify them, leading to wilder and crazier predicaments; these guys just chunk along taking calls.
And although this movie seems to think it's a comedy, it doesn't have a lot of what we would call "jokes". There are some things that are supposed to be amusing, like Hartnett running around a bunch of little bridges trying to catch a witness sloshing away from him, or Ford trying to zip through traffic on a kid's bike, but funny lines, witty timing, actual laughs? This movie's just not set up that way.
If the idea of Hollywood Homicide is that that cops are too busy working their other angles to pay any attention to the murder case, the movie follows that up by not paying any attention to the case either. There's no rhyme or reason or investment in how or whether Harrison will catch the bad guy, so we can't care about that. At the same time, there's no comic progression or intensity about whether Harrison will manage to sell this house he's trying to unload, so we don't care about that either. So what do we care about?
The answer, supposedly, is Harrison Ford and Josh Hartnett. They're movie stars, we like them, we want to see movies that feature them. So goes the theory.
With Hartnett, we have the pretty-boy eye-candy appeal. You may have forgotten him in such films as Pearl Harbor and 40 Days and 40 Nights, but that's okay, he's not here to act, he's here to look good. You stick him in your movie the same way you'd use Jennifer Love Hewitt or Estelle Warren, for simple hotness. But if I saw a movie with those girls in it, I'd be hoping for some bikinis or low-cut dresses, so by the same token I think the girls have a right to expect Hartnett to go shirtless a couple of times, but he doesn't. He's still pretty enough, I guess, but yeesh.
And then there's Harrison Ford. Before I saw this movie, I figured this was an attempt to showcase him in an actiony role to prep the masses for the possibility of a fourth Indiana Jones movie. That it emphatically does not do. Harrison gets in one heavily stunt-manned fistfight in Hollywood Homicide, making it very clear that this is not a guy we can plausibly expect to see clinging to the side of a German tank trying to scrape him off in any further Indy grave-robbing adventures.
Harrison Ford isn't really a comedy actor, and Hollywood Homicide isn't really a comedy, but here he does what he can. He's still got some of that Indy smirk, and hearing him swear "Fuck you very much" is enough to send a light titter through a crowd, but that's about it. He shouldn't have made this movie.
Hollywood Homicide seems to be trading on an assumed love of Hollywood
that by now must be prettttty thin. Supposedly we get warm feelings when
we see Hollywood landmarks or witness a chase through an agency, but it
just ain't happening. Instead, it's just Hollywood business as usual: a
boring, pointless, rarely funny waste of time and resources.