[MOVIE REVIEW]Buddy-cop story fires blanksAn unsmiling detective opens the film, firing off solemn statements like "The life of a cop is not like what you see on television" and "If you break the law, I will hunt you down."
But we soon learn that this is not a serious drama about respecting the brave men in blue. His audience is a classroom of frightened elementary school students.
Robert De Niro stars as Mitch, a deadly earnest detective and the last person who'd ever want to star in one of those "reality" TV programs. Trey (Eddie Murphy), on the other hand, is a frustrated patrolman who dreams of being a TV star.
Trey and Mitch's paths cross when Trey gets some TV cameras to come to one of Mitch's busts, annoying Mitch so much that he shoots one of the cameras. The next morning, thanks to his hostility, Mitch gets the chance to be a star.
Chase Renzi (Rene Russo), a go-for-broke TV producer, thinks Mitch would be the perfect lead for a reality TV show about the world of policemen. She uses a threat of a lawsuit over the capped camera to coerce Mitch into her ambitious project.
Because Trey is everything Mitch is not, he's cast as Mitch's partner on their program "Showtime."
The first half of the film sends up buddy movies and the reality TV shows. But as it goes on, the movie gradually forgets it is supposed to be a parody, and starts to indulge in all the dumb, over-the-top silliness that Hollywood loves to wallow in. The script even includes that grand action staple, the goateed, Euro-trash villain.
The director, Tom Dey, of "Shanghai Noon" (2000), juxtaposes two kinds of scenes ?the manufactured reality of the TV show and "real" life. But the two look pretty much the same. Is the director trying to ask questions about reality TV?
Despite several fun ideas, like cameos by Johnnie Cochran, O.J. Simpson's real-life lawyer, and William Shatner of "T.J. Hooker" fame, the film falls flat as a big-budget entertainment film. You get some laughs, but afterward you're overwhelmed by feelings of unsatisfaction.
One of the most disappointing parts of "Showtime" is watching some fine actors ruin their reputations. De Niro and Russo end up looking clumsy. Murphy is the one who shines once again, just as he did voicing the donkey in "Shrek."
"Showtime" opens May 24.
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