October 10, 2002 -- "Showtime," a movie with loads of talent in front of and behind the camera, is a bust. I guess films are like baseball, even the best hitters strike out seven times out of 10. That's what happens here. Some great hitters are up to bat, but they strike out.
Robert De Niro and Eddie Murphy star in as a mismatched pair of cops on a TV show modeled after "Cops." This would seem like an ideal pairing of actors for this project. De Niro, who plays detective Mitch Preston, is one of the great actors of his generation. Murphy, who plays patrolman Trey Sellars has had big successes in the past playing cops in the "Beverly Hills Cop" series. He is a gifted comic actor, and De Niro was very funny playing a similar kind of character in the recent comedy "Meet the Parents." Paired with them is Rene Russo of "The Thomas Crown Affair," who plays Chase Renzi, the producer of the TV show.
Preston is roped into doing the TV show after he shoots a television camera during an arrest. The threat of a multi million lawsuit against the department is enough to get him on the show. Sellars is an aspiring actor who desperately wants to get on the TV show. Preston wants nothing to do with Sellars, but is stuck with him. The running joke is that Preston can't act, but Sellars can. Probably one of the main mistakes in the film is having a great actor like De Niro play the part of a man who can't act. It is pretty much a waste of talent. Frankie Faison ("The Thomas Crown Affair") plays the clichéd role of Captain Winship with a lot of flair. William Shatner provides comic relief by playing himself as an acting adviser to the TV show. Shatner is supposed to be playing a parody of himself, but that doesn't require much of a stretch. Shatner is probably the funniest person in the film, which gives you an idea just how bad it was.
The story is pretty flat and there are not many laughs. The director, Tom Dey did a fine job with his last comic film, "Shanghai Noon," and two of the screenwriters for "Showtime" also wrote "Shanghai Noon." So with all this talent, how come this film is so flat, unfunny, and has such dull characters, when "Shanghai Noon" was so funny and had such interesting characters? If anything, more talent went into "Showtime" and it still strikes out. If anybody could figure out why projects sometimes go wrong like this, they could make a lot of money in Hollywood. In this particular case, the screenplay was probably the culprit, since all the other pieces to the puzzle seem to fit. This film rates a D.
I saw this film on DVD, but it was only a full screen version, not widescreen, so it doesn't rate a DVD review. It does have an audio commentary soundtrack, though, so it does have more than just the basic features. Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.