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ICYMI: Hollywood Homicide (2003)


Having spent almost a decade in Los Angeles I can confirm that nothing and no one is ever what they seem. That is, LA is the perpetual land of dreamers - full of hard-working people who are doing one thing to get by while waiting on something else to pan out. As someone who moved westward with dreams of being a screenwriter, I saw all of this and more firsthand working as a full-time casino prop player. I worked alongside aspiring actors, writers, singers, musicians, chefs, models, real estate agents, and so on and so on. And while others found ways to keep their dreams alive, I eventually acquiesced to the old saying, “What you do instead of your real work….is your real work.”

2003’s Hollywood Homicide perfectly captures this side of La La Land with a pair cops played by Harrison Ford and Josh Hartnett who are good at their real job but would rather be doing something else. The film was co-written and directed by Ron Shelton who is best known for his insightful sports comedies like Bull Durham, White Men Can’t Jump, and Tin Cup. The film was inspired by time Shelton spent with real life L.A. detective Robert Souza (the film’s other writer) who was hawking real estate when not chasing bad guys in his day. The film is wise about the surreal world and luscious landscape that is Los Angeles and that fact that it bombed at box office always mystified me. The movie is wall-to-wall goofy fun with Harrison Ford taking his comedic talents to all new levels.

The film follows Ford as a haggard veteran detective who sells real estate on the side. As he explains to a potential client played Master P, the city doesn’t pay OT so officers get a lot unpaid leave time which leads to lots of side gigs. Ford is partnered with Hartnett, who uses his spare time to run a successful yoga studio while dreaming of being an actor. Behind the scenes it is understood that these two did not get along and yet on screen there is more than enough antagonistic chemistry.

The plot, if you can call it that, involves a series of murders in the rap music business. There are no surprises with Isaiah Washington and Dwight Yoakam as the villains. The surprise is the lengths that Ford and Hartnett will go to both work the case and follow their dreams while technically on the clock. Also along for the ride is Lena Olin as Ford’s girlfriend who is a successful radio psychic. And yes, when things get truly desperate, these detectives seek her help.

Anyone who has spent more than a month in LA will recognize the characters of Hollywood Homicide with ease. Maybe that was the issue. Maybe the film was seen as being too much of in-joke. But regardless, I would challenge anyone to not enjoy a film that includes the following:

· Harrison Ford dancing to Motown

· Josh Hartnett getting info from an informant by promising to read their script

· Harrison Ford making a real estate sale in the middle of a shoot out

· Josh Hartnett’s uproariously staged audition performance of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”

And yet, the pièce de résistance of it all must be the dual interrogation scene. Both Ford and Hartnett are being grilled by Internal Affairs in separate rooms. Hilarity ensues as we cut back and forth between Ford fast-talking his potential real estate sale and Hartnett demonstrating his extensive knowledge of yoga.

Hollywood Homicide may not be up there in the annals of great or original buddy comedies, but Ford and Hartnett are more than engaging enough to make it a “ride along” worth taking.

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