Earlier this year, Ron Shelton released Deep Blue, a relentless if over-plotted probing of a pair of corrupt LAPD detectives that features Kurt Russell in perhaps his best performance ever (though I have a perverse liking for Tango and Cash). Given the national mood about the police and men in uniform in general, the film died a quick death at the box office. Now Shelton returns with Hollywood Homicide, a whimsical if sometimes strained look at a pair of oddball LAPD detectives that features Harrison Ford in his funniest performance ever. Call it Lite Blue.
Of course, it’s not every zany comedy that opens with the massacre of a hip-hop band. Homicide detectives Joe (Ford) and K.C. (Josh Hartnett) are paged from their part-time jobs — Joe sells real estate, K.C. is a yoga instructor with acting ambitions — to check out the crime scene, and for a while the shaggy-dog comedy and the brutal circumstances work together. So do Ford and Hartnett — their dumpy-pro/eager-rookie routine recalls not so much Ford in Star Wars as the Costner/Robbins pairing in Shelton’s big hit Bull Durham. The Susan Sarandon Earth Mother Muse from that film is filled here by witchy Lena Olin as Ruby, a radio psychic inconveniently married to the head of the department’s internal-affairs unit. All of this has been done before, of course, but the tart, sad, funky exchange as Joe and Ruby make out in one of Joe’s empty, unsold properties (on the corner of Achilles and Hercules in the Mount Olympus development) suggests that it hasn’t been done often enough.
The car chase that prolongs the second act by a thudding 20 minutes is another matter (an earlier chase involving a paddleboat in a Venice canal is far more entertaining). But stick through it anyway to see Josh Hartnett’s hilarious Brando turn in the consummate version of A Streetcar Named Desire.