Reviewed by GREG KING
Director: Tom Dey
Stars: Robert De Niro, Eddie Murphy, Rene Russo, Drena De Niro, William Shatner
Robert De Niro and Eddie Murphy make for an unlikely pairing in this latest odd couple/buddy cop film, but there is very little chemistry between the two. There is also very little originality here as the film bears numerous similarities to superior films like The Hard Way, etc.
De Niro plays Mitch Preston, an embittered 28-year veteran of the police force whose latest undercover operation is ruined by the enthusiastic efforts of incompetent street cop Trey Sellars (Murphy). Having already failed the detective’s exam twice before, Sellars actually wants to be an actor and spends much of his free time unsuccessfully auditioning for tv roles.
The pair are reluctantly brought together by tv producer Chase Rezni (Rene Russo), who is filming a reality cops show, and their continual sniping helps the show become a huge success. While on the trail of a drug lord who is out to buy a revolutionary and destructive, designer-made new hand gun, the pair find their every move broadcast by an eager television crew (which also includes De Niro’s own daughter Drena). Rezni also tries to beef up their drab private lives in an effort to make the pair seem more glamourous for the cameras.
But, for a supposed action comedy, Showtime is heavy on the action and light on the comedy – there are few laughs to be had here, despite Murphy’s excessive mugging for the camera and De Niro’s grizzled, droll presence. In fact the funniest moments come courtesy of William Shatner, playing himself, who, drawing upon his years of experience as the star of tv cop show T J Hooker, tries to instruct both Preston and Sellars in how to act like a television cop. “He’s the worst actor I’ve ever seen,” Shatner comments about De Niro’s character in a rare moment of irreverent, self-effacing humour that actually works. And there is no hint of romance between the antagonistic Preston and Rezni, which may have added some much needed depth and comic spark to the material.
Light on logic and credibility, Showtime is a film that hardly taxes De Niro’s formidable talents and he is clearly coasting through this lightweight role. At times he looks as though he wishes he were elsewhere! Murphy hams it up desperately here and uses all his usual trade mark mannerisms to try and bring some life to his stereotypical role.
Director Tom Dey (Shanghai Noon, etc) is a dab hand at action sequences, and maintains a fast pace throughout the series of chases, explosions and shoot-outs, and there is enough superficial action here to keep undemanding audiences satisfied for the duration.