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Overall Rating

Awesome: 8.82%
Worth A Look: 14.71%
Pretty Bad: 14.71%
Total Crap: 17.65%

2 reviews, 22 user ratings

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Showtime (2002)
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by Scott Weinberg

"When is a sloppy movie worth seeing? When it stars De Niro and Murphy."
3 stars

If you found a restaurant that served an absolutely delicious Meatloaf & Mashed Potatoes Special, you’d probably find yourself somewhat forgiving of the eatery’s poor service and dingy interiors. The meal would prove so sinfully delicious that all other detriments would seem unimportant by comparison. In case you haven’t yet deciphered my ridiculous analogy: the new comedy Showtime is the sloppily-managed restaurant, while stars Robert De Niro and Eddie Murphy are the surprisingly satisfying main course. If a shoddy movie ever succeeded solely thanks to star power, it’s Showtime – the first entry on my 2002 “Guilty Pleasure” list.

Best described as “Lethal Weapon meets EDtv meets 15 Minutes”, Showtime centers around two mismatched cops, the reality TV show they’re both starring in, and a whole lot of irritated sniping. Mitch Preston (De Niro) is the textbook example of a by-the-book detective. Trey Sellers (Murphy) is a hotshot policeman with a flair for the dramatic. When the two butt heads during a bungled sting operation, their humiliating failure is broadcast across all of Los Angeles. Preston has a mild temper tantrum and promptly blows a hole in one of the TV cameras, which leads to some unpleasant legal actions.

Realizing that her TV studio has Mitch in a bind, Chase Renzi (Rene Russo) convinces the reluctant detective to star in their new Cops-style program. Although Mitch absolutely loathes the idea, things get even worse when Chase hires Trey to play his partner. “Showtime” proves to be a big hit, and the two cops quickly become minor celebrities. Mitch and Trey uncover a murderous gang of gunrunners, rehearse their “hood-jumping”, and have their private lives completely rearranged, cameras running all the while.

Since Showtime is essentially a movie about two policemen, you can certainly anticipate the rather pedantic “cop flick” plot machinations. The movie doesn’t really succeed as an action flick, and the screenplay isn’t nearly acidic enough to work as a nasty satire. Simply put – This one’s a mediocre cop flick (at best) and a confused little comedy. But there are two things in Showtime that work extremely well, and their named are Robert and Eddie. I’m not sure whose idea it was to pair De Niro and Murphy, but it was an inspired move: these two deliver enough charm and solid humor that it’s often easy to overlook the uninspired nature of basically everything else onscreen.

Much like he did with 2000’s Shanghai Noon, director Tom Dey somehow manages to breathe a little new life into a potentially stale “buddy flick”. While Showtime is not nearly as scathing a comedy as it could have been, the two leads engage in several moments of hysterical banter and Dey delivers two pretty sweet action sequences to boot. William Shatner offers a clever cameo (playing himself) as he offers numerous tips on how to play a TV cop, while Rene Russo is quite strong in a fairly underwritten role.

Showtime stumbles rather often (most notably in the choppy third act) and it suffers from various filmmaking maladies, but the two stars quite simply save this movie. It’s refreshing to see Eddie Murphy in a comedy that’s not A) a sequel, B) a remake, or C) a sequel to a remake. While Showtime certainly doesn’t rank among Murphy’s finest performances ever, he’s more loose and enjoyable here than he was in The Klumps and both Dr. Dolittles combined. Since Murphy’s character is basically an insecure cop looking for approval, fans of the comedian can expect lots of his trademark sarcasm, false bravado and good-natured arrogance. If, on the other hand, you don’t dig Eddie Murphy – you’re probably better served seeing a different movie!

De Niro continues his string of very entertaining “slow-burn” comic performances, although he had better material to work with in both Meet the Parents and Analyze This. De Niro is essentially mocking his own gruff image in movies like these, and Showtime sees him poking small holes in the “world-weary loner cop” character from films like Heat. If De Niro seems somewhat bored with what goes on in Showtime, that attitude fits the character of Mitch Preston perfectly.

What’s a movie critic to do when he finds himself enjoying a movie that he knows full well is a pretty bad flick? Showtime harbors a host of glaring shortcomings, particularly its schizophrenic narrative - which veers from mild satire to predictable cop flick to lightweight situation comedy. The movie is sloppily edited, rather derivative and often quite predictable…but guess what? I laughed. A lot. Chalk it up to my adoration for both De Niro and Murphy, but I had a pretty good time with this movie, despite its myriad flaws.

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originally posted: 03/14/02 17:18:08
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User Comments

11/23/09 Jeff Wilder how utterly boring it is. 1 stars
6/01/05 manjit singh awesome/fine/nice 5 stars
4/14/04 beem loved it. more great work from eddie 5 stars
1/06/04 Monster W. Kung More like 2,5... when it tries to take itself seriously, it sucks. 3 stars
9/06/03 Dimitri Aubert Come on, it's for a laugh... 4 stars
5/27/03 mr. Pink De Niro will do just about anything, but still....Why this piece of shit??!!!! 1 stars
3/22/03 Jack Sommersby Is there ANY script De Niro won't accept? 1 stars
10/27/02 MarktheShark6 Not quite what I expected from De Niro or Eddie in a movie. A total let-down of a film. 2 stars
10/08/02 Zaharin Hamid aka The Movie Samseng The Hard Way meets EDTV. A winner! 4 stars
9/07/02 JesseL Formula, done badly. Made Eddie look like a cartoon of himself, and Deniro, wooden. 2 stars
9/02/02 AshFan Call me weird, but this is a funny movie with great ideas. 5 stars
8/27/02 ownerofdajoint deniroandmurphymakeitworthwile....... 4 stars
6/06/02 Priscilla Postlethwaite So-so; slow getting off. Russo back to her cockily wooden pre-Thomas Crown persona. 3 stars
6/02/02 Chris It can't decised whether it wants to be a comdey or action and fails on both because of it 2 stars
5/12/02 Doc Holiday It's SHOWTIME!!!!! 1 stars
4/03/02 The Alter Ego PIECE OF SHIT. 1 stars
4/01/02 spaceworm They had a script, correct? 2 stars
3/22/02 Mr. Hat (I'm Back!) For some reason, I've always wanted to see De Niro and Eddie Murphy do a movie together. 4 stars
3/21/02 Xalt No expectations. Funny flick. 3 stars
3/18/02 kishuta I laughed more than I thought I would. A pretty decent buddy cop movie. 4 stars
3/18/02 SJKelley Remarkably poor directing decisions and rough-draft script wastes star power once again. 2 stars
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  15-Mar-2002 (PG-13)



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