Making the Grades
Being extraordinarily ordinary is what Harrison Ford has always done best. We never gave thought to the idea that Han Solo would have to understand nuclear fission or some other exotic science to get his Millennium Falcon to fly. Instead, Ford made like any guy with his Chevy.
It's that same persona that prevents Hollywood Homicide from becoming "just another movie" about an aging gumshoe in the City of Angels. The idea of two mismatched police officers having to hoof it over the Venice canals and slalom down the streets of Beverly Hills while avoiding pokey Rodeo Drive traffic in pursuit of a killer seems like common TV cop fare. But Ford has aged well, making him the perfect comic relief while looking like he's about to collapse after a foot chase.
The buddy-cop premise pits experienced investigator Joe Gavilan (Ford) with rookie K.C. Calden (Josh Hartnett). Having reached the peak of his profession, Gavilan can run an investigation with one hand tied around his cell phone -- which he uses to maintain his second income as a real estate agent.
Meanwhile, Calden is still struggling with his career choice, an emotional decision he made when his LAPD father was killed while on duty. Also working on the side as a yoga instructor (which provides income along with admitted sexual opportunities and a source of new age religion), Calden's real dream is acting.
Both struggle to keep personal issues in check when assigned to solve a prominent gangland style murder that takes the life of a rapper and his cohorts. Calden continues to wrestle with the death of his dad, while Gavilan's every move is being watched by the force's Internal Affairs head, Bennie Macko (Bruce Greenwood), who is obsessed with the idea of finding dirt in the investigator's past.
With Ford's appeal to older audiences and Hartnett's teenage pull, this movie has enormous popularity potential -- not to mention its terrific pacing and situational comedy derived from two characters who don't often have a good day at work. Shooting on the rundown streets of Hollywood and other So-Cal locations, this is less fast and furious and more fatigued and frustrated as we watch our heroes fight crime and police bureaucracy.
But frustrated is also how many parents will feel when discovering the close to 100 profanities and casual sexual relationships in this film. We expect violence -- and there's enough of that with drive-by and nightclub shootings using automatic weapons, and images of burned corpses -- but it's unfortunate this film pushes the PG-13 limits in other content categories as well.
While I enjoyed much of the movie's humor (like when Ford's aggravated character resorts to nabbing a little girl's pink bicycle so he can pedal to the next Metro station and catch up with the crook), I would have found the film much more appealing had the writers eliminated many of the unnecessary scatological and sexual expletives along with sensual moments. Other media-concerned parents will likely also feel Hollywood Homicide is a movie they aren't dying to have their teens see.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Hollywood Homicide.
In a closing scene, media helicopters hamper the efforts of a police helicopter, but when they are asked to leave, they refuse. Do you think journalists have a right to be as close to the “action” as law enforcement officials? What are the pros and cons to this decision?
“Hollywood” is often used to identify the entertainment industry. However, for this section of Los Angeles, the glamour of the past has been replaced by the realities of inner-city struggles. For a history of Hollywood, see this page from the Hollywood Entertainment Museum: