Recently, the highly accredited and award winning dramatic actor Robert DeNiro (“Raging Bull”) has been making a name for himself as the straight man in several comedies. Starting in ’98 with the sleeper comedy hit “Wag the Dog,” he set off a series of comedies that some believe are destined to end his career. But hopefully, “Showtime” isn’t one someone will remember when he or she thinks of the great Robert DeNiro.
Written by the typical group for Hollywood salary writers, this comedy follows the perfectly structured piece with all of the stereotypical characters. Because the salary writers wrote this, the script lacks creativity and is plagued with tiresome jokes. It begins with a rather funny speech by police officer Mitch (DeNiro) to some school children, but we see that in the television trailer. It then moves to Trey (Eddie Murphy from “The Nutty Professor”), who plays an incredibly annoying cop who would rather be a Hollywood star. Trey quickly foils DeNiro’s drug bust and we then see the horribly exaggerated hand-held shotgun that will later pierce through the side of an armored truck but can’t go through a sandbag.
DeNiro is on a case to find out what this gun is and where it came from. That plot is more exciting to write in a review than it is to watch, believe me. It starts off insulting cop movies and then becomes one. The film seems to devour itself in its own criticism.
It is very difficult to not feel sympathy for the very talented veteran actors in the cast. Of course, DeNiro pulls off a believable character and there is little to criticize. As for the others, Rene Russo and Eddie Murphy, it doesn’t seem they tried to give anything to their characters at all. Russo plays the hard hitting and ambitious television producer who brings the reality show to the small screen, but the only thing that brings the focus off her ‘in-your-face’ contrived acting is the very poor performance of Murphy. Murphy made his character so annoying, you are hoping he’ll catch a bullet from DeNiro’s gun. This performance seems to be his nameless donkey character in “Shrek” in the form of a police officer. We are also subjected to watching William Shatner and Johnnie Cochran act. This doesn’t help an already troubled cause.
The movie teeters on the brink of being an action/adventure and a comedy, which makes the action drag with tedious scenes and redundant conflict that then plunges into sentimental nonsense and rushes into a “wrap-it-up” ending. With the poor script and acting and with the mediocre directing of Tom Dey (“Shanghi Noon”), this movie can’t reach a higher grade than a D+. n