A scene from 'Showtime'
Courtesy Photo
2 stars 95 minutes | Rated: PG-13
Opened: Friday, March 15, 2002
Directed by Tom Dey

Starring Robert De Niro, Eddie Murphy, Rene Russo, Perdro Damian, Drena De Niro, Frankie R. Faison, Linda Hart, William Shatner

Cameo: Johnnie Cochran


Even more forgettable on the small screen than in the theater.

   VIDEO RELEASE: 08.13.2002


 LINKS for this film
Official site
at Rotten Tomatoes
at Internet Movie Database
Watch the trailer!
Hypocritical 'Showtime' sets out to mock trite cop movie clichés, but succumbs to them completely

By Rob Blackwelder

The first 20 minutes of the cop-reality show comedy "Showtime" are ripe with glossy satire. Robert De Niro plays a no-nonsense Los Angeles detective forced to let TV crews follow him on and off the job so the department won't get sued for his assault on a network cameraman. The guy got in his way during a collar.

The new show's producer (Renee Russo) -- a zealous Hollywood power-broad-in-Prada-shoes with her finger forever on the pulse of the latest demographic data -- quickly realizes her high concept is going to implode if grumpy, frumpy De Niro is all the program has to offer. So she recruits him a wisecracking, showboating, fame-seeking partner (Eddie Murphy) from the dregs of the patrol ranks. She redecorates police headquarters and his dumpy apartment, IKEA-style. She hires former "T.J. Hooker" star William Shatner (in a funnier than usual send-up of himself) to coach her reluctant star on the finer points of eyebrow arching and moving car hood-jumping.

But after spending Act One on all this establishing, director Tom Dey ("Shanghai Noon") utterly abandons the picture's fertile, sarcastic, "real cop" concept and allows "Showtime" to become a high-concept hack job of undiluted Hollywood hypocrisy. Suddenly there's a bleach-blonde Euro-trash bad guy (Pedro Damian) who engineers ridiculously extravagant daylight armored car robberies for no apparent reason except to show off his customized uber-machine gun that fires one-inch ammunition. Suddenly unmotivated cars chases erupt out of nowhere, always ending in slow-mo explosion-crashes.

Murphy's wannabe-actor beat cop discovers an actual passion for real police work, of course. De Niro softens, becomes a loose cannon whose badge and gun are demanded by Captain Cliché. The bad guys are chased through crowds, guns-a-blazin' and hostage-takin', even though there's no credible evidence they were involved in any crime (the cops don't see what we see). And, of course, the TV show is a huge hit, leading to a stunt-heavy climax of absurd proportions.

So much potential goes to waste in this ironically trite "Lethal Weapon" rip-off masquerading as a "Lethal Weapon" parody that the movie is all down hill after the laugh-out-loud first scene, in which De Niro gives a barking, dead-serious, tough-guy speech about what it's really like to be a cop ("I've never had to choose between the blue wire and the green wire...") -- to a class of first graders who are scared stiff of him.

Even in an industry like Hollywood filmmaking, built on insincerity and cheap contrivance, it's pathetically sanctimonious to make a satire that becomes, then grossly exceeds, that which it's meant to mock.


Buy from Amazon

Rent from Netflix

or Search for

Unlmited DVD rental
$20 a month

powered by FreeFind
SPLICEDwire home
Online Film Critics Society
All Rights Reserved
Return to top
Current Reviews
SPLICEDwire Home