Are You With Us?: Showtime

By Ryan Mazie

March 12, 2012

Imagine Goodfellas meets 48 Hrs...

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Did you ever have the groundhog day effect and feel like you have seen the movie you are watching ten times before, but it just had a different title? I have never had that sense of been-there-done-that ever more so then while watching the Robert DeNiro/Eddie Murphy starrer, Showtime. It is a self-conscious mash-up of the two stars’ flicks Midnight Run and 48 Hrs. with a healthy dash of Cops. Showtime is an awkward Frankenstein’s monster that goes from being a smart spoof into the type of film that it is supposed to be making fun of.

With the plot built on misunderstandings, Robert DeNiro stars as a tough, asocial detective who lives for his job. Eddie Murphy plays a mediocre officer who wants to quit his day job and become an actor (the film is set in Los Angeles by the way so the celebrity cameos are obviously endless). After a news crew scanning the police radio botches an undercover bust, DeNiro shoots out the network’s camera. Now in debt to the TV station who is threatening to sue and with the LAPD in need of positive PR, the chief forces the hard-boiled DeNiro to star in a reality series where he is paired up with Murphy’s fast-talking rookie officer. Sounds realistic, right?

To be fair, the concept does not sound half bad for an airy comedy and Showtime (the title of the film comes from the title of the reality TV show, which is also Murphy’s catchphrase) starts off pretty decent. Unfortunately, the plot is stretched thin within 25 minutes, filling the remaining hour with non-sequiturs and montages. There is a scene where William Shatner strangely gives DeNiro acting lessons on how to dramatically raise an eyebrow. Granted, this is somewhat funny, but one of the many montages where DeNiro and Murphy are sitting in the video confessional booth is a black hole that lasts awkwardly long enough for me to start wondering why the hell am I still watching this mess?


Released this same frame in 2002, unlike this Friday’s competition-less buddy cop comedy, 21 Jump Street, Showtime came in third place, behind the first Ice Age (I just saw the trailer for this summer’s fourth installment of the series and was pleasantly surprised) and the first Resident Evil (who would have guessed a weekend in mid-March would spawn-off two major franchises?).

Opening to the tune of $15 million, Showtime was a flop, especially against the major $85 million budget for the non-summer comedy (my guess is that at least half of that went to the cast, which also includes Rene Russo as a brainless TV exec and Mos Def as an equally dunderheaded gangster).

With heavy competition and posionious word-of-mouth, Showtime never found its box office groove, barely scraping past the $38 million mark (about $52 million adjusted). Overseas revenue was surprisingly low, matching the domestic gross.

I enjoy Eddie Murphy pre-2000; however, he seems to have lost his touch (see this past weekend’s flop A Thousand Words) around the time of this film. Outside of Shrek, his leading man filmography after Showtime reads: Adventures of Pluto Nash, I, Spy, Haunted Mansion, Norbit, Meet Dave, and Imagine That. Yikes! Outside of a supporting part in Dreamgirls, Murphy’s career has been an unfocused mess of paycheck roles. Hopefully, one day he will exit family fare (Tower Heist this past November was a step in the right direction).

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