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De Niro comedies are always a bit hit and miss. Analyze This, Meet The Parents etc admittedly have some very funny moments, but with every good joke there tends to be two or three that just don’t cut it. The latest title, Showtime, brings Hollywood funny man Eddie Murphy into the equation. Is this the De Niro comedy we’ve all been waiting for? Read on…

"Now then class....."
De Niro plays veteran detective Mitch Preston. Early on in the film, Preston, the best in his field, finds himself in the midst of a drug bust gone wrong. The cause of this problem is officer Trey Sellars. The aspiring movie actor cop mistakes Preston for an armed gangster and alerts his superiors (which naturally alerts the media). The situation soon escalates and Preston finds himself on the receiving end of some heavy fire from a stupidly sized gun. In the chaos that follows Mitch shoots a video camera that belongs to a cable TV network, placing Mitch in a very vulnerable position…

The police department is given two choices. They can either face a substantial lawsuit from the cable company for the damage to the camera, or they can allow the filming of a reality TV show that focuses on Mitch and his daily routine. Naturally the police department choose the latter, much to the annoyance of Mitch, who cannot stand the media circus. The producer in charge of the show is Chase Renzi (Rene Russo), who is determined to get a successful TV show to save her flagging career. Unfortunately Mitch’s partner was injured in the drug bust, so Renzi starts looking for another partner for the show. Up steps Trey Sellars in truly dramatic fashion. Surely the perfect formula for the buddy cop format…

I’d love to say that this is a great film, but as much as it pains me, I have to say, in true Simon Cowell fashion, it’s distinctly average. Although performances from the cast are good, the material that they have to work with is pretty poor. The film tries so hard to entertain, but in many cases it falls flat on its face. What particularly annoyed me was that quiet patches in the film were almost always followed with something blowing up. In many cases that wouldn’t bother me, but this was just so obvious and in 99% of the cases it adds little, if anything to the story. It came across as a mere ploy to keep the audience awake, and it happens more than once, which is inexcusable. Unfortunately there’s very little story here either. The whole premise revolves around the ‘stupidly sized gun’ that I’ve already mentioned and it all feels way too much like a ‘TV movie’ set-up for my liking.

"I've just cacked my pants..."
I’m pleased to say though that it’s not all bad. The film does boast a few laughs (though chuckles would be more appropriate) and does have a couple of impressive action sequences. The bank van heist is particularly impressive, and goes on for several minutes as the villains chase through the streets of LA with De Niro and Murphy hot on their heels As I just mentioned, the performances in Showtime are also good, particularly from the two leads. The talent of De Niro and Murphy luckily saves the sinking ship in this case. The real scene-stealer though is without a doubt Bill Shatner! He may be seventy-one, but he’s still a joy to watch on screen as he throws himself across bonnets in true TJ Hooker style! It’s a shame he doesn’t appear more often throughout the movie though, but it’s great to see him back in top form on the big screen.

Overall then Showtime is a watchable if pretty forgettable piece of entertainment, but it’s certainly worth a rental or maybe even a purchase if you’re a fan of De Niro or Murphy. I have to say though, with the up and coming theatrical releases for Analyze That and Meet the Fockers my hopes are not too high for future De Niro comedy ventures. Please prove me wrong Mr De Niro!

Kirk was never this energetic...
This is becoming a bit of a regular occurrence, but I really can’t fault this transfer! The film is as you would expect, presented in its original aspect ratio of 2:35.1 with everything looking as it should do. Skin tones are very lifelike, colours are vibrant, yet detailed, and the clarity of the image is top notch! I noticed no grain or edge enhancement whilst watching either, which is the icing on the cake. This is another quality transfer from Warner. Jolly good show!

Nothing ground breaking here I’m afraid, but then again, neither is the film. We’re given a Dolby Digital 5.1 track and it performs admirably on the whole. Despite the odd action sequence the surrounds are used very rarely, however when the action does kick in the surrounds really do come to life. Despite my hatred of the big gun during the actual film, the gun delivers the best parts of the audio track! Each discharge delivers a satisfying punch that’ll get those windows rattling (yet again)!  

An adequate selection of extra material is provided, but nothing that really stands out. For starters you get an audio commentary with director Tom Dey and producer Jorge Saralegui. Although an informative commentary, it’s not exactly entertaining to listen to. They do cover a wide range of subjects though so you’re bound to find something that interests you.

Customary picture of something blowing up...
Next we have Additional Scenes, which you can play with an optional commentary from the director and producer. The scenes are presented in non-anamorphic widescreen and come in at just under fourteen-minutes in total. Quite a lot of scenes are featured here, the majority being confessional scenes with Eddie Murphy. With all of the scenes I think it’s understandable why they were cut, the confessional scenes were particularly unfunny and became rather tiresome after a while. Still, it’s nice to see these on the disc and to hear why they were pulled from the man in charge.

Next there’s a pretty pathetic cast and crew page that just lists the cast and crew, but nothing about them or their past work. Also we have the theatrical trailer presented in anamorphic widescreen and running to just a touch over one and a half minutes.  

Completing the extras package is a promotional documentary presented by William Shatner. Surprisingly enough I really quite enjoyed watching this one. Shatner really hams it up to the max, which livens up an otherwise pretty bog standard documentary. It features interviews with the principal cast and contains various clips from the film. It would have been nice to see how some of the special effects were achieved but this isn’t touched upon. This one runs to just under fourteen minutes and is presented in 4:3.

Overall then, Showtime is a pretty average flick, but one worth watching if you’re bored! The disc that Warner has put out is pretty good on the whole, with a very good transfer and above average sound. Extras are a little disappointing but at least they included the trailer, which so many films seem to be neglecting these days.