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The old Hollywood gag rings true: Police Departments give their officers personality tests to make sure they are deliberately assigned a partner who is their total opposite. Think Riggs and Murtaugh in Lethal Weapon or Carter and Lee in Rush Hour. Usually also seperated by an ethnic variation as well as a social one, these cops will somehow band together despite their differences and solve the case, with the older one almost certainly declaring that he is too old for detective work.

Such is the case with Showtime, the latest effort from Director Tom Dey who is quite familiar with the sub-genre after helming Shanghai Noon in 2000. But this one has a slightly different spin, grabbing the theme of reality TV and fair dinkum running with it.

Movie
The story has a familiar buddy-cop skeleton with an off-beat outer shell that is meant to be the standout factor in the film’s success. Mitch Preston (Robert De Niro) is your typical hard-edged veteran detective complete with sly looks and confidence coming out of his ears. When a doofus wannabe movie star, patrolman Trey Sellars (Eddie Murphy), botches his operation Preston gets a little more than annoyed and shoots a television camera nearby. Cue the reality TV angle while the police chief chastises Mitch for being so stupid and gives him an ultimatum that could only ever produce one outcome.

"And G.I Joe was swimming in the water..."

Thanks to the ideas of television producer Chase Renzi (Rene Russo still looking good past her prime) Preston and Sellars become part of a television show that follows the pair around on their investigations. This partnership inevitably leads to loads of conflict, some genuinely funny scenarios and a decent storyline that was never going to surprise the masses. If anything the film is carried entirely on its star power; Murphy proving my theory that he is still grossly underutilised (or very picky) as an actor, De Niro doing what he does best (even if it’s getting quite old by now) and Russo looking good and making the most out of a creative yet minimal role. William Shatner’s supporting role is a little grating but at times quite amusing, his tongue planted firmly in his cheek for the duration.

Tom Dey admits in this DVD edition that he had some trepidation about making another crime-fighting-duo film. While Brett Ratner (Rush Hour) lays claim to the best of the best in the modern era since the Lethal Weapon franchise, Dey just lacks the sharp writing and impressive art direction that makes the others films so effective. That’s not to say he hasn’t got the knack for teaming up two high profile starts and somehow making it work, because this is one of the finest examples of smart casting just a little away from the norm. The film also lacks a little due to the classification restrictions and the target audience Dey and his pals decided to go for.

While being neither an out-and-out action flick nor a laugh-a-minute comedy, Showtime makes the most out of being a little confused. The jokes probably weren’t there to have the audiences singing its comedic praises and the storyline didn’t warrant any elaborate car chases or massive explosions. With largely original yet limited subject matter the film is definitely worth a look and you won’t come out disappointed. Whether you’re up for seeing another predictable buddy-cop comedy, albeit with a bit of a different edge, is another thing altogether. See it for Murphy alone doing what he does best.

Stop the press! Rene still in form.

Video
Another typical Roadshow release, on par with their best of recent times. Incredibly sharp and impeccably detailed, this 2.35:1, 16.9 enhanced transfer looks great on the small screen. The rich blues, greys and blacks chosen to decorate most scenes really do look extremely polished on this disc, with no hint of aliasing or artefacts at all. The exterior day scenes are particularly attractive, with Trey Sellar’s first chase scene in front of Chase being the perfect visual example. Everything shines and again reminds us why we love this format. Brilliant.

Audio
This audio mix is very balanced without providing anything groundbreaking, which is pretty much to be expected I suppose. The disc contains a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that sits mainly in the front stage but does bounce around the rears on occasions. Being an action/comedy film it’s not surprising to see many scenes played out in the fronts before jumping around the rest of your setup in the next. Nothing remarkable but effective nonetheless.

The score helps to provide a very balanced audio mix on the disc. The Alan Silvestri score sounds quite good during the film without taking over the speakers or the distraction from the action on screen. Good work all up make this soundtrack well worth a listen if only as a supporting player to the film.

Extras
Not all that much on offer here but it’s all of good quality so there’s a little to look forward to. First up is the commentary track with Director Tom Dey and Producer Jorge Saralegui who have a great rapport and work well together to give the listeners loads of additional information about the making of the film. They cover the actors, the locations, music, props and any other aspect you can think of, making this commentary track quite interesting to listen to. They even put the film into context time-wise, pointing out that the looming actors and writers strike affected the timing and shooting schedule of the film.

Prepare for Showtime.

The additional scenes are worth a look, though the last few clips of Trey’s confessions get a little tiresome after a while. It’s a shame the Premiere party was chopped to bits because it would have looked quite impressive on the disc. The majority of clips are accompanied by a commentary from both of the men, clarifying why the scenes were cut and their place in the earlier versions of the film.

The William Shatner-hosted documentary is a humorous look at the making of the movie which really helps to make some unremarkable subject matter a little more interesting and funny. Shatner hams it up the whole way and there are some decent behind the scenes clips included here. Well worth a look.

Rounding out the disc are the cast & crew biographies and the very effective theatrical trailer which certainly had my ears pricking up the first time I saw it in the theatre. Some good quality extras without being packed to the hilt.

Overall
Certainly an easy film to watch on a night in. Murphy, De Niro and Russo make this flick and the reality TV angle helps to give the tired buddy-cop genre a slightly different spin. The disc features a great visual transfer, a very balanced audio mix and some quality extras that make it a worthwhile package. Take a look.


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