Showtime

| March 20, 2002

Two very different cops are thrown together by their captain to fight crime on the streets of Los Angeles. No, it isn’t one of the Lethal Weapon flicks, but the sophomore direction attempt by Tom Dey (Shanghai Noon), inappropriately called Showtime. When it is show time, I expect to be entertained. With this movie, the laughs are spaced out too far for a good recommendation.
What’s good:
Robert De Niro as the straight man. Like he did in Wag the Dog, De Niro is able to keep a straight face long enough to make us believe his character could actually exist. He sees the stupidity that occurs around him and like the viewing audience, can’t wait to move on to a better scene. He is believable and that makes him funny.
William Shatner making fun of himself as T.J. Hooker. Shatner plays the part of a director who teaches the two real-life cops to be TV cops. A lot of the action scenes. Dey must have learned some stuff on the set of Shanghai Noon.
A lot of the sets. I loved the changes they make on De Niro’s apartment when they make him a TV star.
Some of the dialogue. That’s good.
Rene Russo (Ransom) as Chase Renzi, TV Executive. She and Drena DeNiro (Robert’s daughter) make a fun production team for the TV show they create.
What’s bad:
The Story: De Niro is detective Mitch Preston. He’s a no-nonsense cop who’s only hobby is to throw pottery. When Murphy blows a drug bust, he blows up at the wrong time, shooting a TV camera who responded to Murhpy’s radio call (via the scanner). Instead of suing the LAPD, a network exec (Russo) comes up with the idea for a truer than life version of COPS starring Preston. Her idea is that he will lose his cool on camera andthey’ll get a killing or something on camera. Great. Just what Los Angeles needs.
Eddie Murphy. Though it pains me to say it he was a bad characterization of Axel Foley from Beverly Hills Cop. Murphy plays Trey Sellars, a cop/actor who’s biggest credit is a walk-on on a canceled TV show. He spends more time at casting calls than on the street doing his job. Unlike DeNiro, Murphy’s Sellars is not believable. He’s a farce, and painful to watch.
A lot of the characters. You will see “the Stupid TV Exec,” the “Donut Eating Cop,” the “Combustible Squad Captain,” and the “Villain Who Laughs in the Cop’s Face.” Save me.
The Continuity: Watch the Restaurant Rating card (something they do in LA – an A in the window is good, a C means bugs etc.) go from an A to a C in successive scenes. Watch De Niro’s hands move around a burger inside the diner. Watch us go from day to night and back in a matter of minutes. And more….
The Story, Part 2: Sometimes these two cops work “undercover.” How can they get any work done if everyone sees their faces plastered on billboards and on TV? And what kind of a stupid name for a TV cop show is Showtime?
So maybe I missed the point and that Showtime is a spoof of some sort. If that is the case they wasted De Niro on a script that wasn’t “spoofy” enough. Or, if this was just supposed to be a comedy in the Buddy Cop genre, it wasn’t funny enough for the theater.
BUT: It is definitely funny enough to rent: There are enough laughs provided by De Niro to totally make it worth the $1.99 at Blockbuster. Wait the month or so, and enjoy De Niro in your own living room with microwave popcorn that doesn’t cost $4.00

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