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Sunday, 27 May 2018

Retro Review: Showtime (2002)

Cast: Robert De Niro, Eddie Murphy, Rene Russo, William Shatner, Pedro Damian
Genre: Buddy Cop Action Comedy
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $77 million

Plot: A no-nonsense LAPD detective is forced to star in a reality-based TV show with a showboating patrolman

'Not Quite A 'No' Show But Still Disappointing' 

A buddy cop comedy vehicle of the early 2000s, what sounded like a pair of intriguing star names on paper in established performers, Eddie Murphy and Robert De Niro, Showtime eventually becomes a run-of-the-mill movie, that sadly underwhelms, especially in the comedy aspect.

One of the executive producers of this film is none other than Will Smith and Showtime is like the Truman Show meets Buddy Cop formula, although it treads along the same territory as 1991's The Hard Way starring Michael J. Fox and James Woods with the would-be cop actor teaming up with the real cop.

Trey desperately wants to become an actor; in contrast, Mitch hates being in the limelight and doesn't want anything to do with it. After destroying a TV camera, Mitch faces being sued and a $10 million lawsuit. The only way to avoid all that is to take part in a reality TV show with a TV actor and fake cop, Trey who becomes his partner-in-crime.

Tom Dey repeats the buddy star concept here with De Niro and Murphy after Shanghai Noon with Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson, but sadly it didn't quite come together.

Besides, it is only a tad better than Eddie Murphy's other action comedy effort, I Spy, Showtime gets off to a promising start; Murphy should have carved out a career as an action comedy star, much like with Jackie Chan, as he has the chops for it. 
Yet, the film is blighted by the script drowning out Murphy's and De Niro's efforts. When the film shifts the focus onto the bland enemies and Russo's character, unfortunately, Showtime descends into predictable and cliched territory along with a story that becomes mediocre. And contrary to some people, Murphy makes for an okay foil and I didn't have any real qualms about this performance, yet Showtime could have been peppered with a bit more wit and slapstick to make it more entertaining. Unlike his counterpart, however, De Niro is much more effective in action thrillers, as well as dramas, but pure action comedy is just not his forte, whilst with other comedies such as the Meet The Parents, Analyse This, he pretty much repeats the same performance as the no-nonsense, hard-nosed type who attempts to be funny. Here, with Showtime he looks sort of out of place. A Jackie Chan, Bruce Willis or Schwarzenneger-type of cop/pure action star would have, in my eyes, complimented Murphy far better - although die-hard De Niro fans wouldn't mind seeing him here.

The supporting cast was forgettable and they weren't of that importance for me to care about. Rene Russo of Lethal Weapon 3 and 4 fulfils the role of the producer and TV ratings chaser of the show that becomes a hit, but her turn is banal and is of little consequence. Meanwhile, the unconvincing villain is a casual nobody that I don't know anything about and he and his cronies appear just to cause trouble for our twosome. 

As well as the gags that are, in turn, not so amusing, but for one or two scenes, though it may score points for star power, unfortunately, De Niro and Murphy's talents haven't been honed to a tee and it feels all too routine. & as far as buddy cop comedies and Eddie Murphy movies in general go, this ranks almost near the bottom, although unlike with the awful Norbit, Showtime is more along the lines of being disappointing and lacklustre, rather than outright horrific. 

Final Verdict: 

Billed as an action comedy, there is plenty of action on show, yet good comedy and humour is second nature and because of that, the lighter elements do not come into fruition, which is a pity. There just wasn't a sufficient amount of good comedy to keep audiences and me happy and amused. Given the two main headlining leads, Showtime should have amounted to a whole lot more, and better.


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