Showtime

A spoof of reality-TV cop shows — now there's a fresh idea. Robert De Niro plays Mitch Preston, an all-business LAPD detective, and Eddie Murphy is Trey Sellars, a patrol officer who wants to be an actor. TV producer Chase Renzi (gorgeous Rene Russo is so wasted here) teams them up for a Cops-like TV jaunt, and the smiles start coming. Or they would, if the stars, the script or director Tom Dey (Shanghai Noon) had bothered to muster the effort to indicate that they were in it for anything but the bucks. De Niro looks bored, Murphy recycles Murphy, and you mentally add Showtime to the pile of Hollywood dreck that represents nothing more than the art of the deal.

Oh, there is one scene I should mention. That classic hambone William Shatner turns up as himself to show these cops how to play to the camera — after all, he did do his share of stunts and close-ups as the star of TV's T.J. Hooker. "Watch the eyebrows," says Shatner, who works those babies like caterpillars on strings to say things the dialogue can't. The Shatner action seems to rouse De Niro and Murphy from the coma of their performances, and for the first and last time in this lame excuse for a comedy, everybody laughs.

From The Archives Issue 893: April 11, 2002
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