DE NIRO and Murphy disappoint, even as opposites.
photo: Courtesy of Continental Film
Running Time: 95 min
Starring: Robert De Niro, Eddie Murphy, Rene Russo
Directed by: Tom Dey
Rating: 3 out of 10
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SHOWTIME (2002) is quite an accomplishment - it puts exciting actors Robert De Niro and Eddie Murphy together, and produces a limp, boring, regurgitated cop comedy.
Here are the ingredients: Mitch Preston (De Niro) is a senior L.A.P.D. detective, a tough guy who doesn't talk much, doesn't show much emotion, and hates it when people stick their noses in his business. Having been a cop for over 20 years, he likes it best when he works alone.
Patrol officer Trey Sellars (Murphy), on the other hand, is anything but a cop. He's an upbeat, giddy braggart, and is the object of mockery among his colleagues down at the police station. Once a mime actor, he puts all his energies into getting his 15 minutes of fame.
The two parts of this crummy film are stirred together when Trey unintentionally gets involved in an undercover drug bust and destroys Mitch's chances of catching his suspects. Irritated by the TV crew who happens to be on the scene, Mitch shoots a bullet into the camera. This act assures him the lead story in the newspapers and a legal suit from the television network. However, producer Chase Renzi (Rene Russo), spotting a potential TV star in Mitch, makes a suggestion: Act in a new reality show with Trey and the suit is dropped.
For Mitch, being on TV is the last thing he wants, but he agrees to the proposal in order to spare the police station the cost of legal action. For Trey, his TV partner, it's the chance of a lifetime. And thus we begin with a long string of scenes in which Mitch complains "I don't wanna be there" and Trey works on his moves in front of the mirror.
This movie's main problem is its inability to come up with original scenes. While the opening scene seems promising - Mitch giving a lecture on the importance of police duties - it quickly descends into cliché. Dialogue and rib tickling situations, such as a bunch of guys malarking around in a changing room, are thinly recycled from previous cop movies.
The characters are flat and repetitious. Murphy plays the Beverly Hills cop whom nobody takes seriously. De Niro doesn't use his talent as fully as he did in comedies Analyse This (1999) and Meet the Parents (2000).
And if the characters add nothing new, the car chases, violence and explosions plumb new depths of humdrum. We can only hope that Tom Dey (Shanghai Noon, 2000) finds even an ounce of inspiration that might prevent him from producing a similar catastrophe in the future.