Review: Showtime

Showtime is impossibly lightweight for TV satire.

Photo: Warner Bros.

Hard-boiled cop Mitch Preston (Robert De Niro) bumps into lazy cop Trey Sellars (Eddie Murphy) at a botched crime scene. Chase Renzi (Rene Russo) smells reality TV ratings when Preston goes bonkers over a reporter’s too-close-for-comfort camera angle. Research says a cop either lives in a trailer or a downtown loft but the gruffy Preston thinks television has it all wrong (“There’s a reason why cops don’t taste cocaine, it could be cyanide”). Showtime lacks punch yet it subtly suggests that cop clichés aren’t that far off the mark. De Niro is wonderfully shit-faced though Murphy, predictably, only nails three-out-every-ten one-liners. This is cutesy satire for the masses, a smug Real World-meets-Cops smorgasbord suffocated by its air of pointlessness. Director Tom Dey makes it fascinatingly difficult to tell real-life scenarios from cliché TV moments and while nothing in Showtime can be taken at face value it’s not long before the screenwriters reveal they have nothing up their sleeves. The film’s satirical thrust is written on popcorn one-liners (“This is America, everyone wants to be on television”) and golly-gee self-reference (yes, that’s William Shatner from “T.J. Hooker”). Showtime is impossibly lightweight for TV satire.

 Cast: Robert De Niro, Eddie Murphy, Rene Russo, William Shatner, Mel Rodriquez, Jullian Dulce Vida  Director: Tom Dey  Screenwriter: Alfred Gough, Miles Millar, Keith Sharon  Distributor: Warner Bros.  Running Time: 92 min  Rating: PG-13  Year: 2002  Buy: Video, Soundtrack

Ed Gonzalez

Ed Gonzalez is the co-founder of Slant Magazine. His writing has also appeared in The Village Voice and The Los Angeles Times. He’s a member of the New York Film Critics Circle, the Critics Choice Association, and the Latino Entertainment Journalists Association.

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