Eddie Murphy and Robert De Niro, together? It’s crazy – so crazy it might work. Warner Brothers’ Showtime, which teams up the two legendary actors, is quite enjoyable. Although hampered by a predictable script, Showtime has fresh jokes and quality acting.
De Niro (15 Minutes) stars as Mitch Preston, a no-nonsense cop. Murphy (Shrek) plays Trey Sellars, a rookie cop who dreams of breaking into movies. While playing video games after work, Sellars stumbles into an undercover sting operation, destroying Preston’s hard work in catching a drug dealer. Frustrated, Preston shoots a television camera.
Facing a lawsuit by the television station, Preston agrees to star in a reality show about cops. Who else could be his new partner but Sellars? Hilarity ensues as Chase Renzi (Rene Russo, Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle) tries to teach Preston to act, and Preston tries to cope with Sellars.
The real fault of Showtime is a weak script. The major problem is the film’s duel plot lines. The movie is a crime story, as the cops try to track down the bad guys and save the day. Full of cliches and obvious plot devices, this part of the movie is pretty much car chases and shootouts. There is no dramatic investigation and no studying of clues. Luckily, the bad guys pretty much show up wherever the cops expect them to.
The second story is the dynamic of Sellars and Preston as they try to work together. Seeing the interaction between Sellars and Preston, you cannot help but think that Murphy is reprising his role of the begrudged sidekick donkey in Shrek. The end result is that neither plot line is fully developed, although everything is resolved in the last 10 minutes of the movie.
In predictable fashion, there are a few scenes thrown in solely so Murphy can showcase his talents with voices and facial expressions.
Showtime does do a good job with comedy. The movie manages to be funny without stooping to gross-out jokes or sexual humor, meaning that this is a movie you can feel comfortable seeing with your parents over Spring Break.
Another plus is the relative realism of the police portrayals. Sellars is the perfect TV cop. He wants to drive a sports car and fight crooks hand-to-hand. Preston spends a good part of the movie making fun of Sellers for buying into the television cop persona. Consequently the police action is a little more realistic than usual. The captain reprimands Sellars and Preston after taking part in a high-speed car chase. You would think that real cops would definitely be reprimanded after three cars explode in the middle of the city.
There is no way Showtime will be mentioned at the Academy Awards, but at least the audience is not embarrassed to be watching. De Niro and Murphy are talented actors, and cameos by Johnnie Cochran and William Shatner playing themselves add to the humor. All and all, Showtime is worth seeing, but don’t be too discouraged if you miss it and have to wait for video.