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Dan Heller's Movie Review of "Showtime"


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Robert De Niro
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Robert De Niro/Eddie Murphy
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Showtime
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The genre of buddy-cop flicks has been around for a long time, and movie-goers usually reward films that have multi-megastar actors and sure-fire formulas. This is what has made "48-hours", "Midnight Run" and countless other movies so successful. In fact, it's gotten to the point that they are so old hat that it's not surprising that you'd start seeing comedy spoofs about them.

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Showtime
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"Showtime", the latest buddy-cop flick to hit the silver screen, is, in fact, supposed to be a spoof of such films. What's more, it also pokes a satirical finger at the television media in all its forms: news coverage, cop shows, reality TV, and over-the-hill personalities, trying desperately to keep their careers alive. Yet, despite the shoe-in ease of ridiculing a cliché movie format, and the movie's top-shelf talent of Robert De Niro, Eddie Murphy and Renee Russo, the script's humor is mediocre at best, and it's buried by its feeble attempt at also having a serious plot.

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Showtime
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The movie actually pays more attention to its plot than it should. It revolves around De Niro's character, a serious L.A.P.D. veteran named Mitch Preston, and Murphy's character, Trey Sellars, a beat cop whose real desire is to be a TV actor. The two meet when Preston's undercover drug bust is fouled up by Sellars, who inadvertently stumbles onto the scene. The whole event is caught on television by an ambitious news crew, and the oil and vinegar cops end up being co-stars of their own reality-tv cop show called, "Showtime."

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Showtime
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De Niro and Murphy, who've done their fair share of cop movies, buddy movies and comedies, seemed perfect for the parts, since they are all set up to satirize themselves as well as the genre. The problem is, director Tom Dey doesn't allude to their past work, or even other movies in past or present for the tongue-in-cheek effect. Even William Shatner and Johnnie Cochran, who play themselves to accentuate the satirical theme, don't really contribute much to the overall satire.

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Renee Russo
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The main problem with the film, besides the poor script and formulaic structure and storyline, is that it takes itself too seriously as a real cop movie. While De Niro and Murphy play around with their familiar screen personas, and have moments of humor and good nature, it's not enough to carry the film. The plot is simplistic, the minor characters are uninteresting, and the motivations of the main characters are not compelling. But this avoids the real problem that the movie's objective was flawed from the beginning. It tried to do two things at once: a comedic satire, and a serious crime-fighting and relationship-building buddy flick. Once it decided to go over-the-edge with the satire, the serious stuff should have been left on the cutting-room floor.

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