Showtime (2002) / Comedy-Action

MPAA Rated: PG-13 for violence, language and some drug content
Running Time: 95 min.

Cast: Robert De Niro, Eddie Murphy, Rene Russo, Pedro Damian, Frankie Faison, William Shatner, Kadeem Hardison, Nestor Serrano, Mos Def, Johnnie Cochran
Director: Tom Dey
Screenplay: Keith Sharon, Alfred Gough, Miles Millar
Review published March 12, 2002

I suppose it may be true that if you've seen one buddy movie, you've seen 'em all.  The "buddies" are usually two people who don't particularly belong together and throughout have an inability to get along, at least until the end when they find out how much they have come to respect one another despite their differences.  Usually in these films, the plot is standard fare and merely a reason for the two actors, usually two actors we like, to play off of one another and inspire laughs at each others expenses.  Since Eddie Murphy's debut in 48 Hrs., he has done his share of buddy films (Trading Places, Harlem Nights, Another 48 Hrs., and Bowfinger), and so has his Showtime partner, De Niro (Midnight Run, Mad Dog and Glory, and Analyze This).  Showtime does little to deviate from the formula, and in fact proves the formula's worth in terms of entertainment, because we like the characters so much that we are willing to forgive any excesses in the stupidity of the plot just to see the two actors have fun.

De Niro plays a bitter detective and Murphy is a wanna-be actor patrol cop, and after they are caught on camera in a bungled crackdown, they are pulled together to be the stars of a new reality television show on the beat in Los Angeles.  The detective resents being there and refuses to play along, being forced into the situation, while the cop showboats all he can for the camera, trying to gain exposure and be the next superstar actor.  They are soon working on a case involving illegal and very powerful guns, and find it is difficult enough staying alive while trying to take down bad guys without having to worry about killing each other in the process.

If you go into this looking for a good film, you are probably going to be disappointed because, quite frankly, it's not.  However, if you want to pass the time without having to think, and perhaps even have a good chuckle now and then, Showtime will probably fit the bill.  The film succeeds because we like De Niro and Murphy, and we like them together.  There are also some good laughs provided by William Shatner (Shoot or Be Shot, Miss Congeniality) poking fun at his own image, as well as its satirical look at reality shows, cop shows, and Hollywood in general (although a large dose of hypocrisy may upset some viewers that the so-called reality show is actually following typical Hollywood movie cops).  While there are some impressive stunts performed, the film hits its most serious lulls when actually dealing with the plot, which is thankfully avoided 75% of the film's duration. 

Did you like all of the Lethal Weapon, Rush Hour, and 48 Hrs. movies regardless of the plots?  If the answer is yes, then by all means, see Showtime and enjoy the mindless fun.

Qwipster's rating:

2000 Vince Leo