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Starring Robert de Niro and Eddie Murphy; Renee Russo, Frankie R. Faison and William Shatner
Screenplay by Keith Sharon and Alfred Gough & Miles Millar
Story by Jorge Saralegui
Directed by Tom Dey
Official Website

IN SHORT: One funny popcorn flick. [Rated PG-13 for Action Violence, Language and Some Drug Content. 105 minutes]

By way of explanation this review is being written on the six month anniversary of the WTC attack, done under the most aggrieving physical circumstances imaginable. Post traumatic syndrome pain from our head and neck injuries and spinal cord damage (see History of Cranky for more) was spiked to the nth degree due to non-stop "anniversary" coverage on all the New York television stations. Our mood was so foul by the time we got to the movie theater that they could smell it over in New Jersey. One hour and forty five minutes later, all better.

Excluding the animated Shrek, it has been a very long time since we've enjoyed an Eddie Murphy movie as much as Showtime. It doesn't hurt that Murphy has Robert De Niro as a co-star and can't sit back on his trademark laugh to carry the day. De Niro's presence alone means Murphy's got to fire on all cylinders, which he does sans trademark. De Niro, for his part and completely in character, only needs to put on his "I don't want to be here" look to get most of his job done. There is such a "De Niro" image in the minds of his audience that we do the rest of the gig for him.

Set in the lovely City of Angels, Showtime brings us the origins of yet another men in blue on the move reality teevee show. It isn't a brilliant idea carefully developed, hashed and rehashed in upper level meetings at the Maxis Television Network, no, it was a brilliant moment of inspiration on the part of producer Chase Renzi (Renee Russo) after seeing Police Detective Mitch Preston (De Niro) take out a vicious video camera at close range. Said camera had been snooping on what would turn out to be a blown undercover drug sting brought about by an overeager cop with an overactive imagination -- Patrol Officer Trey "But What I Really Want To Be Is An Actor" Sellars (Murphy). With news choppers thwuck-thwuck-thwuck-ing above the night streets, Sellars tosses every stereotype tough cop move and vocal inflection he can manage at suspects, bad and good, fleeing the scene. One bad guy shoots back with what could easily be described as an antitank gun on a stick. The other bad guy, from street cop Sellars' point of view is detective Preston, who takes him out quickly and embarrassingly on live telly. Then comes the attack of the killer kamera.

Both cops are suspended. Renzi smells the next "Cops" and the LAPD forces Preston to take meetings to do the show to fix their PR problem. At this point, Preston doesn't know there's a partner involved -- it's the network's idea to add some "funny minority type" to the mix. In comes Murphy and the directing genius of the greatest television cop ever to direct the series, TJ Hooker himself (William Shatner). Yeah, you've seen all the best "Shatner cannot act" jokes in the trailers and spots but they're still funny when they show up again on screen. From here on out, it's a clash of styles as a klutzy production team follows behind to add additional comic moments. It is all extremely funny even as Murphy's cop, who hasn't demonstrated the slightest cop skills, uses his wiles to get information out of a suspect (Frankie R. Faison) that De Niro's detective couldn't.

The last thing writers Keith Sharon and Alfred Gough & Miles Millar seem to have wanted in their script is any sense of reality whatsoever. None of the police "work" is legal, or even allowed -- cops in our crowd were bitching up a storm afterwards -- and Russo's character is so incredibly incompetent that she'd never make producer anywhere outside of a mom and pop show in Peoria So what? This ain't American Beauty, folks. It's a comedy and it's funny and you should buy popcorn.

That way, if we're far off the mark, you can throw it at the screen.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Nine Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Showtime, he would have paid . . .


Take a date. Kick back and have a good time.

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The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.