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March 15, 2002page 21 of 36

It's 'Showtime' for De Niro and Murphy
Eddie Murphy and Robert De Niro take comedic antics to the crime scene in director Tom Dey's dangerously funny new cop-action spoof Showtime. William Shatner also makes an appearance as none other than himself.

By Chris Webb
Staff Writer
ATLANTA
March 15, 2002




Photos courtesy WARNER BROS. PICTURES

Eddie Murphy and Robert De Niro are the stars in the reality-based television show called 'Showtime' in the new movie of the same name. Rene Russo and William Shatner are the producers trying to weave a tale of TV gold.

Film: Showtime Studio: Warner Bros. Starring: Robert De Niro, Eddie Murphy, Rene Russo MPAA Rating: PG-13 Rating: 3.5 stars

Eddie Murphy and Robert De Niro put on a badge and lay on the laughs in Showtime. The movie is a lampoon of TV shows such as Miami Vice and movies like the Lethal Weapon series.

Mitch Preston (De Niro) is a "by the book" 26-year veteran detective with a penchant for pottery. While on a drug bust, a media helicopter swarms in creating confusion and a deadly gun battle. In the midst of battle, the drug dealer, played by rapper Mos Def, pulls out a gargantuan gun that fires uranium-depleted bullets. In a race to catch the fleeing dealer, Preston gets entangled with a media cameraman. He shoots the camera in disgust.

In trouble with the police for destroying the camera, Preston is forced to participate in the reality-based cop show "Showtime." His new partner, Officer Trey Sellers (Eddie Murphy), is an incompetent show-off more concerned with his struggling movie career than catching criminals. The remainder of the movie involves the two police officers' quest to find the gun. Only steps behind them trail producer Chase Renzi (Rene Russo) and a captive TV audience.

The best parts of the movie are found when Renzi tries to make Preston into a cop star. William Shatner (as himself) holds a boot camp, so that the officers can "properly" jump onto car hoods and test for drugs. Of course, TJ Hooker never had to deal with the reality of car repair or as Preston explains, "There's a reason why cops don't taste cocaine, it could be cyanide."

In further hopes of making Preston a bigger star, the producers replace his land yacht for a jet-black Hummer and convert his living room into a advertisement for Ikea. Their hands even renovate the police station from a grungy mess of papers into a slick office with chic computer desks and a confessional for one-on-one time with the TV audience.

Nevertheless, Preston takes no pleasure in the changes that have become imposed upon his life. He grudgingly accepts the torture if only to keep from getting fired. The best lines in the movie come from his witty comments about the "realness" of the whole situation.

The movie could have picked up the jokes and run with them for a few more laughs. Shatner was superb as himself, but a few more cameos would have gone a long way to pick up some of the duller moments. Perhaps Judge Reinhold could have appeared to reprise his Beverly Hills Cop role.

Showtime isn't a bad movie, but it isn't the sidesplitting comedy that its talent warrants. The result relies too much on the comedic talents of Robert De Niro, known far more for his dramatic acting. Eddie Murphy plays essentially the same jokes throughout the movie. There are only so many times that his intentionally poor acting resonates into a laugh.

Sadly enough, the coolest thing in the movie might be the gun. The movie isn't that bad, the gun is just that good. Imagine if someone carried around a bazooka the size of a machine gun. Even though De Niro informs the audience that real cops don't have gun battles or see exploding cars, this spoof is full of them. Critically, this is also the worst part of the film. In the process of making a cop spoof the writers fell into the same traps of cars explosions and bank robberies. That shouldn't distract you from seeing the movie.

You will like this movie if you watch any kind of cop show just to laugh at their stupidity. This movie will suit you perfectly. Expect this movie to be the major blockbuster of the weekend. If you can, wait until your friends see it to gauge their reaction.


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