[box cover]


With another George Bush in the White House and Jerry Bruckheimer back making bloated action extravaganzas, one could almost think that the '80s have been reinstated. And if stars Robert De Niro and Eddie Murphy looked a little bit younger in Showtime (2002), the film might be mistaken for a by-product of Reaganomics. It's not — instead it merely rehashes its stars' better works. Directed by Tom Dey (who did a fine job doing just about the same thing with Owen Wilson and Jackie Chan in Shanghai Noon), the film recasts a Midnight Run-esque De Niro as Detective Mitch Preston, who is forced to work with Trey Sellers (Murphy, playing a dumber version of his wisecracking Beverly Hills Cop character), as the two are partnered for a reality TV show. Goaded on by TV producer Chase Renzi (Rene Russo) who is in need of a hit show, and by their Captain Winthrop (Frankie Faison), the structure of the film is so exceptionally routine that you don't even need to see 48 HRS to know that at first the two won't get along, but by the end of the film they become buddies. To complete the clichés, De Niro and Russo must fall for each other, and bad guys with weird new weapons and accents must be defeated. For a picture so mired in '80s tropes, it's strange that the movie Showtime most resembles is John Badham's 1992 comedy The Hard Way, only with Michael J. Fox and James Woods (it is also happens to be a bit better). Here, De Niro — after showing he has some comic timing in Analyze This — is in "pick up the paycheck" mode and brings none of the talents one would expect from this two-time Oscar winner. Murphy is then left with the gag-work, but saddled with a PG-13 rating, this master of profanity is left too clean and too limp — which fits in with the "high concept" approach the film has in gentrifying two stars whose best work was never "family friendly." Some amusement is derived from William Shatner ("T.J. Hooker") making fun of himself by showing the actors how to play cops, but this joke is almost as worn out as the rest of the movie. Warner's DVD release of Showtime presents the a strong anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras include an audio commentary by director Dey and producer Jorge Saralegui, a "making-of" featurette hosted by Shatner, additional scenes with optional commentary, the theatrical trailer, and cast/crew notes. Snap-case.

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