Are You With Us?: Showtime
By Ryan Mazie
March 12, 2012
In Showtime, Murphy uses his greatest skill – his motor mouth, playing a character who cannot shut-up. However, his Homer Simpson-level of intelligence is frustrating. It is nice to see him verbally clashing with DeNiro, yet physically they seem friendly with one another – probably bonding together on-set over what they had gotten themselves into with this film.
DeNiro sleepwalks through his part, just delivering a caricature of his normal tough-as-nails typecast. Occasionally lightening up enough to chuckle, those are the scenes that make the movie click. Like Murphy, this was the start of DeNiro’s “paycheck” career phase as well, taking part in films like Godsend, Hide and Seek, and Killer Elite.
I believe that Showtime was a smart, tight comedy when it was greenlit by Warner Bros. However, credited with four separate writers (there were surely many more uncredited script doctors draining the comedic life out of the screenplay), it was dumbed-down into a slapdash “comedy," full of needless explosions and montages.
Surely directed by a committee of producers and studio heads, Tom Dey is credited as the helmer of Showtime. Dey fails to mix comedy and action as well as he did in his semi-hit previous film debut, Shanghai Noon. While cops are in car chases and come across grisly bodies, nothing about that feels natural here. The destructive, bullet-strewn car chase through Los Angeles is neither thrilling nor relevant to the story. Seemingly belonging to a different movie, there are quite a few aftermath continuity errors that go unnoticed by everyone in the film except the viewers.
When Russo’s character (I pray she got a nice paycheck for having to deliver some cringe-worthy lines) pitches the reality show to the head of the television network, he asks, “What is the prize?” Back in 2002, reality TV was all about gamesmanship. Following people around with a camera was not “reality TV” unless it involved a million dollar reward. Today, a show like Showtime actually seems more than realistic, making the film with us in terms of its plot more now then when it was released. Edtv, a smarter, and funnier film than Showtime, revolving around a fictional reality show, also flopped, with the concept being foreign at the time.
Dey never changes the camera style for the filming of the reality show, making the plot mechanism never fully work. I am sure if this film was made today, it would be all hand-held camera (something never employed here; instead we just see the cameraman filming what happens, serving as a distraction).
Worth seeing for the first 25 munutes (this is the type of movie you can guess the ending even of before you hit play), Showtime is all lights, camera, and explosive action, but lacks character, laughs, and plot. Periodically entertaining, you can spend your time just as well by watching any reality program on TV. At least that is free.
Verdict: With Us
4 out of 10