'Showtime' could use dose of reality

'Showtime' -- PG-13

One of the (few) drawbacks to writing movie reviews is that invariably someone is going to disagree with my remarks. In November, some of the girls in my class took offense to my review of "Monsters Inc." Recently, however, a couple of friends have taken offense to my shabby opinion (in their opinion) of comedies.

Looking back at my last three comedy reviews, my average rating was 55 percent, but really, does that warrant insinuations that I don't have a sense of humor? So, it was off to "Showtime" to (hopefully) prove them wrong.

Detective Mitch Preston (Robert DeNiro) is a top-notch, all-business Los Angeles cop. He, however, has little patience for showboats and cop-actor wannabes like Officer Trey Sellars (Eddie Murphy), who, in a bizarre twist of bad luck found only in a Hollywood movie, wrecks Preston's drug bust. To top things off, a "COPS"-like television crew shows up to film what will probably be a typical drug bust. Unfortunately, the drug dealer is armed with a "really big gun" and escapes. In (yet) another improbable twist, a cameraman blunders into the way and Preston shoots the camera.

The story is all over the news and shrewd producer Chase Renzy (Rene Russo) decides that Preston, the antithesis of a television cop, would be perfect to star in his own true-life police force show, which he must do, otherwise he'll be sued for everything he has. But there needs to be some kind of loose and funny sidekick, so to speak, which is where Sellars re-enters Preston's life. Now with two polar opposites for partners, let the fun begin!


Back to the plot. In the midst of this television show business, there is a bad guy out there, using these "big guns" to commit all sorts of heinous crimes (in broad daylight, mind you). This man, a typical villain complete with a foreign name -- Caesar Vargas (Pedro Damian) -- and an accent, is probably one of the stupidest criminals in movie history. He all but says that he is using the "big guns" to our two heroes, but he still goes on living his current lifestyle. In all, the plot was implausible and basically a plot-in-a-can.

However contrived the plot, the comedy within was excellent. Murphy and DeNiro gel well together and in the process, provide a plethora of laughs. They are two opposites who, when added together, accent the other's strong points. But my favorite character was actually non-human. A true scene-stealer was Powder, a retired drug-sniffing (watch for the double entendre) dog, who appears several times with powder on his nose. Excellent point, in my modest opinion.

I also liked William Shatner's appearance as an "expert" in TV-cop techniques, which are a 180-degree turn from real procedure. But the true highlight of Shatner's appearance is his muttering and calling DeNiro's character the worst actor he's ever seen.

Despite my constant reminder that "this is a comedy and something of a satire and should not be taken too seriously," I could not get over my hang-ups about the whole script, which sometimes denied DeNiro and Murphy from doing what they're good at -- acting. It had potential, but when it comes down to it, director Tom Dey's "Showtime," seems to have been watered down and dumbed down for general audiences. So, when it comes down to it, my streak of down-rating comedies will continue despite DeNiro's and Murphy's performances, which bring the rating up to 75 percent (which brings my average comedy rating up to 60 percent).

Andrew Howard is a junior at Rochester Lourdes High School. To respond to reviews in Sound &; Vision, call 252-1111, category TEEN (8336); write Teen Beat, Post-Bulletin, P.O. Box 6118, Rochester, MN 55903-6118 or send e-mail to

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