WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Two mismatched cops butt heads repeatedly while trying to break open a weapons ring. Lest this one come off like yet another generic cop flick, there’s a twist: this time around, our heroes are the subject of a popular new reality show.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Odd. SHOWTIME doesn’t wholly succeed as an action flick, and the screenplay isn’t nearly acidic enough to work as an effective indictment of reality TV. Simply put, it’s a mediocre cop flick (at best) and a confused little comedy. But there are two things on display here that work extremely well, and their names are Robert and Eddie. I’m not sure whose idea it was to pair De Niro and Murphy, but it was an inspired move: these two deliver enough charm and solid humor that it’s often easy to overlook the relatively uninspired nature of the production as a whole. Much like he did with 2000’s SHANGHAI NOON, director Tom Dey somehow manages to breathe a little new life into a potentially stale “buddy flick”. While this flick is not nearly as scathing a comedy as it could have been, the two leads engage in several moments of hysterical banter and Dey delivers two pretty sweet action sequences to boot.
William Shatner also offers up a clever cameo (playing himself) with numerous tips on how to play a TV cop, while Rene Russo is quite strong in a fairly underwritten role. The film does become sloppier as it goes on (particularly in Act III) and it suffers from a host of ‘cookie cutter’ issues, but the two stars absolutely save this movie. It’s a delight to see Murphy in a comedy that’s not A) a sequel, B) a remake, or C) a sequel to a remake. While SHOWTIME certainly doesn’t rank among Murphy’s finest performances ever, he’s more loose and enjoyable here than he was in The Klumps and both Dr. Dolittles combined. In my mind, SHOWTIME a ‘TV Dinner’ flick; you’ll enjoy it while it’s in front of you, but odds are that you won’t even remember ingesting it after six hours pass. With two lesser actors in the lead roles, this movie would probably have been near unwatchable.
It’s always nice to see when a relative dud at the box-office manages to produce a solid DVD package. Fans of this overlooked flick will have a good time with the full-length audio commentary with director Tom Dey and producer Jorge Saralegui. The filmmakers adopt a casual tone, breezily discuss whatever happens to pop onscreen, and clearly have a lot of respect for their two star actors. From casting to editing to production design, Tom and Jorge chat it up quite nicely, though this is far from one of the most electrifying tracks ever recorded.
There’s also a 15-minute EPK featurette that originally aired on HBO. This is precisely the kind of pre-release fluff that may hold your interest two weeks before the movie comes out, but there’s nothing of interest if you’ve seen the flick already. An uncomfortable narration by William Shatner, a few brief cast/crew interviews, and some cursory behind-the-scenes footage add up to not much at all. Only slightly more entertaining is a collection of 9 deleted scenes, 4 scenes cut from the film and 5 clips of Eddie Murphy riffing in a stunningly unfunny series of improv clips. Click around and you’ll also find the original theatrical trailer and some cast/crew bios.
The movie gets a reluctant recommendation from me, mainly because it should have been SO much better, but the laughs are there and the movie moves along at a brisk clip. If you’re not expecting much, odds are that you’ll have a good time.