MovieScope By Robert Snyder
A huge moment for comedy in the career of Harrison Ford was, when as Indiana Jones in "The Raiders of the Lost Ark," he shoots a mid-eastern enemy after watching him twirl a menacing machete for several seconds. Ford was also amusing playing Han Solo in the "Star Wars" series and the misled lover/executive in "Working Girl." But, the action hero’s episodes of unbridled hilarity are few and far between. Which is for the best.
In "Hollywood Homicide," director/ writer Ron Shelton provides the reason why. He places Ford in a comic cop mode, suited for the likes of Eddie Murphy, Billy Crystal or Will Smith. The problem is…Ford is as funny as Clint Eastwood. Shelton has Harrison in the role of veteran Los Angeles detective Joe Gavilan, who’s three times divorced and up to his neck in debt. During his off-hours, he moonlights as a real estate agent, trying to broker deals that
don’t materialize…particularly one involving a white elephant home in Hollywood Hills.
Playing young police partner K.C. Calden, Josh Hartnett also fails in the laugh department. K.C. has aspirations to be a Marlon Brandoesque actor and is in rehearsals for a low-budget production of "A Streetcar Named Desire." His second, legit job is teaching yoga, which supplies him with limitless opportunities for seducing women.
"Hollywood Homicide" is loaded with subplots, but the main story concerns the quadruple murder of a rap act onstage. Gavilan’s investigation leads to record label owner Antoine Sartain (Isaiah Washington), sinister kingpin of the L.A. hip-hop scene. Shelton alternates between silly stuff and serious violence, with Ford and Hartnett doing a weak imitation of the Mel Gibson-Danny Glover team in the "Lethal Weapon" movies. The "Bull Durham" director packs Detective Gavilan with character details (he likes 60’s soul music, doesn’t "get" hip-hop and eats cheeseburgers with mayonnaise). His love interest is radio psychic Ruby (Lena Olin), while one of the his informants is a madam named Cleo
Cameos are provided by Smokey, Gladys Knight, Martin Landau, Robert Wagner, Eric Idle, Frank Sinatra, Jr., and a cross-dressing Lou Diamond Philips.
It’s not clear why these celebrities appear in the movie, except as wake-up stimuli for the audience. In addition, we’re treated to slapstick car and pedal-boat chases, as well as wacky Internal Affairs interrogation with Gavilan interrupted by cell-phone calls, while K.C. slips into yoga exercises. The scenes are similar in their lack of laughs and excitement. The finale has Ford reviving his trademark somberness, as he pursues a bad guy across urban rooftops before they both beat the hell out of each other.
Although it may be intentional, the once-athletic Indiana Jones seems stiff and awkward. Nothing funny about that.
"Hollywood Homicide" pulled in a disappointing $11.7 million on its opening weekend…the number-five spot beneath "Rugrats Go Wild."
Nothing funny about that, either.