Hollywood Homicide

a review by

Matt Ceccato


Why do we watch cop/buddy movies?  Is it for the exciting car chases and shootouts?  Is it for the witty banter between our two beleagured cops and their superiors?  Is it for the beer swilling, acting classes and real estate sales? 

Okay, you're scratching your head on the last item.  Huh?  Since when do cops sell houses and take acting classes?  Well, in Ron Shelton's new film Hollywood Homicide, they do.  Obviously Shelton (making his second LAPD film this year, following Dark Blue) was looking for a way to spice up this genre, and since we never saw a movie about a cop who wants to be a real estate agent and a cop who also wants to act, he thought "why not?"  Well, I'll be danged.  This does work and, thanks to the performances of our lead actors, it works wonderfully.

Since it is a cop movie, we're going to have the murder investigation (see the title).  But our police officers have outside lives, too.  Harrison Ford plays Joe Gavilan (the real estate cop) as a Motown loving flawed individual who loves the ladies and wants to get his real estate business off the ground and out of debt.  Josh Hartnett plays his partner, one K.C. Calden.  He's performing in A Streetcar Named Desire at the end of the week and hopes to get representation from William Morris out of the deal.  The two are called to the homicides of four rappers at a nightclub and we see their worlds collide in amusing ways.

On Ford's side of the investigation, he tries to sell a place to a nightclub owner (Master P) during the initial interview.  On Hartnett's side, he meets actors and screenwriters and hopes to obtain info and exchange their scripts and head shots.  Ford also sees a radio psychic (Lena Olin, very lovely) and may have "relations" with a known madam (Lolita Davidovich) under investigation.  Hartnett also teaches a yoga class and one of his pupils knows a producer (Martin Landau) thinking of selling his house.  And then the investigation takes a lucky turn when the murderers are also murdered, leading them to a rap mogul (Isaiah Washington, trying his best not do do a P. Diddy homage) with a shady past.

Okay, it's a cop film.  We know this.  We're going to have the obligatory car chase.  But who would have thought one of the cops was going to be negotiating a deal on a house during this while chasing the suspect near Graumann's Chinese Theater?  We're going to have the requisite conflict with Internal Affairs.  Did anyone think that yoga could play a part?  And since it's in Hollywood, where everyone knows everyone, it's quite possible that everyone will catch a lucky break and all is well.  It makes me smile.

Ford has finally found his comedic voice.  Gavilan is flawed, dedicated and quite funny.  Hartnett delivers his best performance to date as the cop/actor who wants more than to just bust the bad guys.  The supporting cast, also including Bruce Greenwood as the IA investigator and Master P as the nightclub owner "in between cribs" just add to the fun and make the scenarios amusing and even believable.  When's the last time you saw a buddy movie and thought "hey, that could happen?"

I had a lot of fun watching this.  If this turns into a franchise, I'll be there for the sequel.  I can't remember the last time I looked forward to that.  I didn't even mind all the cliches.  And who knows?  Maybe in the next film, we'll meet a cop who wants to be chef and one who wants to tame lions.  Hey, I'll be there.

Three stars.