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Published: Friday, 6/13/2003

Movie review: Hollywood Homicide **

BY NANCIANN CHERRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

What's a leading man to do when his aging fan base prefers to stay home and cuddle with the remote control?

Why not hook up with a leading man for the younger generation?

That's what Harrison Ford does in Hollywood Homicide, wherein he plays a veteran police detective teamed with a young partner, played by Josh Hartnett, who starred in O, Black Hawk Down, and 40 Days and 40 Nights.

Ford also tries balancing action with comedy in this film co-written, produced, and directed by Ron Shelton, who knows a thing or two about both. Shelton gave the world Bull Durham, Blaze, Tin Cup, and Dark Blue, the only one of the bunch he didn't have a hand in writing.

The bottom line on Shelton's latest? It's a mess.

No, that's harsh. It's a flim-flam, a con, but not a carefully plotted con such as those in The Sting or Ocean's 11. It's the house of cards kind of con. One strong wind - or in this case, a strong streak of logical thinking - and the whole thing will come tumbling down.

But until that point, there's so much going on and plenty of cameo performers popping in and out - look quick, there's Gladys Knight, Smokey Robinson, Master P, Frank Sinatra, Jr., Robert Wagner, Eric Idle - that Shelton and his cast are able to hide a multitude of sins.

Joe Gavilan (Ford) and K.C. Calden (Hartnett) aren't your usual Hollywood police team, dedicated, upright, loyal, tenacious. Gavilan is world-weary, behind on his alimony, and bewildered by his young partner, a second-generation detective who is a horrible shot. Like a lot of cops, they have second jobs. Gavilan is a real-estate broker trying to dump an albatross of a mansion, Calden a yoga instructor who wants to be an actor.

They get called to a scene of chaos in a nightclub, where a hip-hop group has been gunned down.

As they search for clues, they crack wise, try to handle their other jobs, and become targets of an Internal Affairs investigation. Just another day in the neighborhood.

Ford is no stranger to comedy. He was a romantic lead in Sabrina and Working Girl. But in those films, he played the straight man around whom the chaos - and laughs - flowed. In Hollywood Homicide, he's one of the goofs.

Sometimes it works, such as when he tries to sell a house in the middle of an investigation. Sometimes it's embarrassing, as when he chases a murder suspect on a child's pink bicycle.

Hartnett, too, is a split decision. Mostly he's bland, but the scenes in which he rehearses for a production of A Streetcar Named Desire are a hoot.

Percy (Master P) Miller as a nightclub owner and Isaiah Washington as a music producer impress with their ability to hold audience attention. Too bad they didn't have more screen time.

With Shelton's pedigree, the talent of Ford and Hartnett, and the fun of trying to spot the celebrities in cameo appearances, Hollywood Homicide should have been a whole lot more fun.

Instead, it's that house of cards, and the big wind that will knock it down will come from all the word of mouth after the opening weekend. Look for this one to sink fast.



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