The credits for "Showtime" list almost as many writers for the story and screenplay as there are actors in the film - always a bad sign. No doubt it seemed like a good idea at the time to make a rollicking comedy, a cop and buddy movie with two of the very best actors in town - Eddie Murphy and Robert De Niro as unwilling partners. De Niro is a detective with 28 years on the Los Angeles police force and Murphy is a patrolman who wants to act on TV. And then the story makes this unlikely couple at the same time the heroes of a television show to be called, what else, 'Showtime!', with a camera crew to record their every move. So you see, while they're actually solving the crime and going after the bad guys, they're also being television actors in their own series, if you're still following me.
Unhappily, every little extra that's added to that seemingly good idea here just drops like a weight on the film, greatly resembling a pile of something the dog left on the living room carpet. Just about everything worthwhile in "Showtime" has already been done before. Brusque, unwilling, sullen, introverted De Niro? "Midnight Run." Brash, quick-witted, motormouth Murphy? "48 Hours," "Beverly Hills Cop" and "Shrek."
What's left? Well, poor Rene Russo, that fine actress, is given an embarrassing role as the TV producer who brings the boys together. William Shatner - yes, the real one - as himself, directing the TV show and trying to demonstrate how to do a stunt. Even Johnnie Cochran is here for a minute as the attorney for a bad guy. Everything else between the opening credits and the closing blooper reel is smashing cars, burning trucks, broken glass and enormously powerful guns that fire huge depleted-uranium shells - not such a tasteful idea these days.
I did find one moment of wit: the boys follow a suspect into a gun show at a hotel ballroom, where everyone is in camouflage and the hotel loudspeakers are playing "The Ballad of the Green Berets." Th-th-th-that's all, folks.